Everyone is talking about Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V - the three Covid-19 vaccines being administered in India. However, there are actually many other Covid-19 vaccines currently in the pipeline in India.
By the end of this year, India is likely to have about half a dozen vaccines. This will reduce the gap between supply and demand and also bring down the prices.
Here’s all you need to know about the new vaccines.
Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine under the name ‘Covishield’.
But apart from that, it is also producing protein-based Covid-19 vaccine NVX-CoV2373 under the brand name ‘Covovax’. This vaccine was developed by US biotechnology company Novovax. SII’s production of Covovax has already begun.
As of now, bridging studies for Covovax are underway in India. Once Novavax gets the required approvals in terms of efficacy trials abroad, it is expected that SII will do the same in India.
Covovax is expected to be rolled out in two to three months. Twenty crore doses of the vaccine are likely to be produced by December.
Not far away from SII, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals is another company based in Pune. The company has developed India’s first mRNA Covid-19 vaccine called HGC019. Phase I trials for the vaccine candidate began last month and so far 120 volunteers have been covered.
Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has been granted Rs 250 crore by the government. The company’s vaccine candidate is likely to be launched early next year.
Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine candidate is currently under Phase I trials.
According to the manufacturer, the intranasal vaccine BBV154 creates an immune response at the site of infection (in the nasal mucosa). This helps to block both infection and transmission of Covid-19.
Bharat Biotech, the company that also manufactures Covaxin, is expected to roll out ten crore doses of its nasal vaccine by the end of the year.
Zydus Cadila in Gujarat is producing an intradermal Covid-19 vaccine called ZyCoV-D. It is India’s first indigenously developed DNA vaccine candidate and is currently being tested on children.
The company is expected to provide five crore doses by the end of the year. ZyCoV-D is likely to be rolled out in a month’s time. Zydus Cadila will apply for emergency use authorisation in two weeks.
Hyderabad-based Biological E has developed a vaccine candidate called Corbevax which is currently undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials.
Corbevax is a protein sub-unit vaccine, similar to inactivated whole-cell vaccines such as Covaxin, and does not contain live components of the virus.
The government said on Thursday that it will make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to Biological E to reserve 30 crore doses of Corbevax.
Thirty crore doses of Corbevax are expected to be rolled out between August and December. Of these, at least 7.5 crore doses will be available by September.
Additionally, Biological E is also making an mRNA vaccine. The company has entered into a licensing agreement with Providence Therapeutics Holdings to manufacture the Canadian company's mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in India.
The vaccine, named PTX-COVID19-B, is under development in Canada at the moment.
Biological E is also bringing Johnson and Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine to India. The Indian company has a deal to produce about 600 million doses of the vaccine called Janssen.
Janssen has already been approved for use in the United States, the European Union, Thailand and South Africa among others.
In India, six companies will produce Russia’s Covid vaccine Sputnik V. This vaccine is expected to be the most used in India, apart from Covishield and Covaxin, based on the way in which its production is being ramped up.
The manufacturing companies include Hetero Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech and Serum Institute of India. The companies are on track to make millions of doses of the Russian vaccine in a bid to alleviate the country's current vaccine shortage.
Indian companies are also looking to use their manufacturing capabilities to ramp up production of foreign vaccines via technology transfer.
Cipla is close to committing one billion dollars in advance payment for Moderna’s booster vaccine in India. Wockhardt has also said it intends to get the technology transfer of Covid-19 vaccines in order to manufacture two billion doses in India.
India prides itself on being the pharmacy to the world. As of now, the nation’s plan of augmenting vaccination capacity in order to inoculate more than a billion people seems on track.
However, India will have to be prepared for challenges in the form of new variants, vulnerability of children and so on.