A COVID-19 vaccine in India would most likely be ready by early 2021, but it would be a challenge for the country’s billion plus population. Plus, some of the world’s premiere pharma companies such as Zydus Cadila, Bharat Biotech, AstraZeneca and Serum Institute are conducting the vaccine trials in India. And Russia in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s is set to run trials for Sputnik-V in next few weeks.
India, over the last decade, has emerged as a global pharmaceuticals and vaccine hub. It is one of the largest suppliers of generic medicines, occupying 20 per cent share of global supplies. The Indian vaccine industry has established a firm hold over the entire chain of vaccine development. Moreover, Indian vaccines are known for world-class manufacturing and have been stamped with one of the surest seals of quality in any health product. India has also emerged as a key bulk vaccine manufacturer in recent times, and already produces 60 per cent of the world’s vaccines. Reports highlight that one in every three doses of vaccines used in the world are produced in India. Furthermore, Indian firms are big suppliers to the UN agencies, accounting for between 60 to 80 per cent of the vaccines it buys every year.
Gagandeep Kang, a professor of microbiology at Christian Medical College in Vellore and a member of WHO’s Global Advisory Committee, said that by year-end, India will have data that will point out which vaccines are working and which are not going to do so well. She told Bloomberg that if India witnesses good results, then vaccines are likely in small quantities in early 2021 and larger numbers in latter part.
The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan said more than four candidates are in advanced stages of pre-clinical trials. He said 145 vaccine candidates across the world are under pre-clinical evaluation, around 35 under clinical trials. “In India, we gave all support to 30 vaccine candidates, three of these are in advanced trials of phases 1,2 and 3. Over four in advanced stages of the pre-clinical trial,” the minister said.
Two of India’s indigenous vaccine that look promising are Covaxin, which is being developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech India in collaboration with the Indian Council on Medical Research, and ZyCoV-D, which is being developed by Zydus Cadilla. Both vaccines are in Phase II clinical trials.