With Russia launching Sputnik V, the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, and its second one, EpiVacCorona, showing promising results in the preliminary findings, the race for a weapon against the novel coronavirus has gained a new momentum altogether. India is also not lagging behind in this race for vaccine. According to latest media reports, Indians will get free shots of a COVID-19 vaccine within 73 days  under the National Immunisation Programme (NIP). This vaccine, to be called Covishield in India, is being developed by Oxford University in collaboration with a Swedish multinational company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune. SII is the largest vaccine producer of the world. Sources from SII have revealed to a leading media house that the Indian government has given them a special license to fast-track the trial protocol process, which is supposed to complete in 58 days. The government has already 68 crore doses of this COVID-19 vaccine from the institute by June 2020. Also Read - FDA puts on hold plasma therapy to treat COVID-19: Here’s what Indian health experts have to say

On Saturday, while inaugurating a makeshift hospital Ghaziabad, UP, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan also expressed hope that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready in India by the end of 2020. He has been quoted saying, “One of our COVID-19 vaccine candidates is in the third phase of the clinical trial. We are very confident that a vaccine will be developed by end of this year.” Also Read - Top COVID-19 testing myths debunked: Stop believing them

The trial story of Covishield

Reportedly, Covishield entered its Phase III clinical trial yesterday (August 22), with the first dose of the vaccine being administered to volunteers. The second dosing will commence 29 days later and the final results of the phase III trial is going to be out within another 15 days. A top official from SII has been quoted saying, “By that time, we are planning to commercialise Covishield.” The phase III trial of this vaccine has begun at 17 centres in India with 1,600 volunteers. Also Read - This breathalyzer test can detect COVID-19 in seconds

Preliminary findings from the earlier trials of Covishield have assured that this vaccine is safe. Scientists have also observed that it has successfully triggered a T-cell (an immune cell) response within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days.

How is Covishield going to work?

This vaccine has been developed with a weak strain of a common cold adenovirus derived from chimpanzees. It has been genetically modified to ensure that it is unable to infect humans. The adenovirus has been infused with genetic material from the Sars-CoV-2 virus’ surface protein, known as spike glycoprotein (S). This spike protein helps the novel coronavirus to sneak into the human body and cause infections.

Other vaccines in development in India

Apart from Covishield, India has two other vaccine candidates that are in various stages of clinical trial. They are COVAXIN, India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, developed jointly by Bharat Biotech and Indian Council of Medical Research, and Zydus Cadila’s Zycov D. The second dose of Zycov D, DNA vaccine, was administered a few days back and according to sources, the pharma company  is planning to launch it by next year.

Published : August 23, 2020 11:18 am | Updated:August 23, 2020 11:52 am

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