Successful efficacy trials would also reinforce India’s credentials as major vaccine producer given Covaxin has been developed jointly by Bharat Biotech and the ICMR’s National Institute of Virology based in Pune
NEW DELHI :
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Ltd whose vaccine is among two approved by the Indian government for mass inoculation against covid-19 has sought permission from the governments in Bangladesh and Myanmar to conduct clinical trials, said three people familiar with the developments.
The move is seen as a step towards Bharat Biotech pitching its Covaxin vaccine as a viable option to combat the pandemic, opening up new markets.
Successful efficacy trials would also reinforce India’s credentials as major vaccine producer given Covaxin has been developed jointly by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR)’s National Institute of Virology based in Pune.
India has also approved Covishield for mass immunization, which is produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India but developed by UK’s Oxford University and AstraZeneca. A clutch of other homegrown vaccines are also being developed currently.
According to one of the people cited above, Bharat Biotech’s proposal for efficacy trials was received by Bangladesh’s Bangladesh Medical Research Council last week. Dhaka-based International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) is expected to conduct the trials on behalf of Bharat Biotech, this person said.
In the case of Myanmar, a second person said Bharat Biotech has been in touch with the Myanmarese government and the efficacy trials are expected to start shortly.
According to ICMR, the trials are part of normal procedure ahead of countries procuring vaccines for their people. “Every country will have their own rules and regulations for clinical trials and their regulatory authority will decide whether they need a clinical trial or not. India can’t say that," said Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases division at ICMR. He, however, declined to comment on whether Bharat Biotech plans to conduct trials in other countries. A spokesperson for Bharat Biotech declined to comment on the efficacy trials in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Harsh Pant, a professor of international relations at London-based King’s College said several countries have been demanding efficacy trials of covid-19 vaccines. He pointed to recent news reports which said that a Chinese vaccine was found to be 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials, less than what was thought previously.
“At times, individual countries might be demanding this (efficacy trials) for a greater confirmation of the efficiency of the vaccine," said Pant. “In that sense, it (vaccine) is like any other export—it has to meet local conditions and requirements," he said, adding that governments buying vaccines for their people was a sensitive issue in all countries.