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Nine Months Into The COVID-19 Pandemic, Which Vaccine Candidates Are In The Final Stages Of Trial? 

The novel coronavirus has claimed more than 9 lakh lives across the globe, here’s the status of the vaccines that are leading the race

Nine Months Into The COVID-19 Pandemic, Which Vaccine Candidates Are In The Ahead In The Race Final Stages Of Trial? 
Highlights
  • 6 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in clinical trials: WHO
  • After a pause, AstraZeneca vaccine has resumed trials in UK
  • Three COVID-19 vaccines in India are IN clinical trials: ICMR

New Delhi: Never before in the history of modern medicine, has a vaccine development for a disease undertaken simultaneously at the same time as its outbreak. But unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Nine-months into the pandemic and the novel coronavirus having claimed more than 9.5 lakh lives across the globe and nearly 1 lakh in India. By and large, the consensus is that vaccine is the only option currently to stem the pandemic. With what normally takes years is now being crunched into months, it is no surprise that COVID-19 vaccine development is being tracked almost real-time on a daily basis. Every positive indicators in trials is being cheered and widespread alarm over any hitched that get reported.

According to WHO, currently there are more than 175 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical trials; while 34 are in clinical trials.

Also Read: Coronavirus Explained: What Are The Phases In The Clinical Trials Of The COVID-19 Vaccine?

Here are the six frontrunners and their status so far:

  1. AstraZeneca And Oxford University: Astrazeneca, which is creating a COVID-19 vaccine with Oxford University has been flagged by WHO as the most promising candidate. The vaccine made headlines as they paused their global vaccine trial on September 6, after a UK based participant showed signs of severe illness. Serum Institute of India, which is conducting the trials for the same candidate through a partnership here, had to pause testing after notice by India’s top drug regulator about the complications in UK. Around 100 participants have been administered the vaccine in India and while a total of 30,000 people across the globe, as per Oxford University. AstraZeneca resumed their phase three trials on September 15 in the UK, after the World Health Organisation called the pause a “wake up call” and not a setback. As per WHO, vaccine development was not always a “fast and straight road”, and that such complications often happen. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, being developed through a non-replicating a viral vector vaccine, is among the front-runners of the global candidates. A non-replicating viral vector vaccine uses a well-established inactivated or killed viral vector such as adenovirus to express proteins of SARS-CoV-2, so that the proteins can be recognised by the immune system to elicit an immune response, WHO explains.
  2. Pfizer/ BioNTech: Pfizer, a US-based pharma and  BioNTech, a Germany based pharma are developing this candidate in partnership. The candidate is in the final stage of the trials as well, with 30,000 volunteers, as per Pfizer’s statement. It is an RNA vaccine also known as mRNA vaccine, that provides acquired immunity through a vector containing the same RNA as SARS-CoV-2.
  3. US-based pharma company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases began the Phase III trial in the United States on July 27, with 30,000 volunteers. It is an mRNA vaccine, as per Moderna. Moderna released the blueprints for its study and trials. Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel, with the blueprints said that his company would know whether their vaccine works by November and can be distribution can be stretched until May.
  4. Sinopharm: China-based pharmaceutical firm, Sinopharm has partnered with Beijing Institute of Biological Products and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products to come up with a vaccine. The vaccine is being created using inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus, to be able to trigger an immune response to the coronavirus. The candidate is in the Phase III trial as well, with 45,000 volunteers being administered the vaccine, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products has stated.
  5. CoronaVac: CoronaVac is a vaccine candidate that is being developed by Sinovac Biotech, a Chinese biopharmaceutical company and Instituto Butantan, a Brazilian biologic research centre. In this partnership, CoronaVac is being developed using inactivated SARS-CoV-2 and is currently in phase three of the trials with 10,900 participants, as per a recent statement by Sinovac.
  6. Sputnik V: The Sputnik V vaccine is being developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia. The candidate is developed using non-replicating viral vector, which is same as the Oxford vaccine and is being administered on 40,000 participants, said the Institute. India bases pharama company, Drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) has partnered the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to carry out phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in India, following which it would distribute the vaccine here for public use. The partnership is to manufacture about 10 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Also Read: Serum Institute To Produce COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Developed By Oxford University, Will Be Called Covishield In India

Status Of India’s Vaccine Candidates:

There are at least eight vaccine candidates being developed in India as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data.

Three of these COVID-19 vaccines are at the clinical trial stage, and two indigenous vaccine candidates have completed phase one trial, according to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Dr Balram Bhargava.

Three vaccines are at the clinical trial stage in India. Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed phase-I trials, results are being analysed. They have started recruitment for the second phase, Dr Bhargava said at a press conference on Tuesday (September 15).

Also Read: AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Pause A ‘Wake-Up Call’, Says WHO

Dr Bhargava further said that Serum Institute of India (SII) has completed phase II-B3 trials. After the 7-day break due to complications in the UK, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) Dr V G Somani on September 16 gave permission to Serum Institute of India to resume clinical trial of the vaccine candidate.

The DCGI, however, put certain conditions like taking extra care during screening, providing additional information in informed consent and close monitoring for adverse events during follow-up of the study which have to be “scrupulously” followed by Serum Institute of India.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

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