The front-runner, Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trials, has reached its final leg of testing. The novel coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford had achieved safe and promising results in the early stages of the trial. With the increase of community spread across the globe, the two organizations are moving quickly towards the third phase of vaccine trials by outsourcing it, that is, trying it in other countries, one of them being India.

The AstraZeneca has tied up with the Serum Institute of India (SII) which is a private vaccine maker. They will produce the doses as well as to conduct the experimental trials in India. The Serum Institute of India has sought for the regulatory license from the respective authorities to conduct the tests and manufacture doses. Reports suggest that five sites were being prepared for the same.

With a lot of things going on, here are the highlights of the happenings.

  • The vaccine of Oxford is in 3rd phase of testing-One of the leading contenders in the global vaccine race, Oxford has made ambitious claims and promises to deliver a large number of doses to India and other developing countries. As per the study results published on July 20, the vaccine, named AZD1222 is well-tolerated, safe and immunogenic. It’s also said to have had a dual impact on volunteers between 18 to 35 years of age. With both good and bad, the vaccine by Oxford might be the first to have a global launch.
  • “Safe” to use- In early trials, the vaccine was found to be safe for use though it hasn’t had enough testing to declare the vaccine to be “safe”. The Department of Biotechnology is assisting in setting up sites for further testing before it’s administered to Indians. The Department of Biotechnology announced the need to have data within the country and hence it is expected that the vaccine would be available for Indians real quick.
  • Large scale testing in upcoming months-The SII has sought permission from the Drugs Controller General of India to conduct phase 2 and phase 3 of clinical trials for the potential vaccine. The vaccine would be taken by about 4000 to 5000 volunteers in Mumbai and Pune in selected trial centres and that will determine whether it delivers the required immune response or has strong side effects. As of now, a Pune firm headed by Adar Poonawalla is the only manufacturer of the experimental vaccine but DBT is hopeful that more manufacturers will take part in the trials.
  • SII to produce millions of doses in India-Vaccine trials is expected to commence in early August and end by December. The Serum Institute of India has also accelerated production plans to have millions of ready doses as soon as the vaccine is approved for usage.
  • Pricing- SII guaranteed of reserving the vaccine manufactured in India for the Indians only and can cost around Rs. 1000 as Poonawalla doesn’t want to make “profit” from the pandemic.

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