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NEW DELHI : The Serum Institute of India’s phase 2 trials for Covishield vaccine developed by the University of Oxford started on Tuesday, with the first patients screened by the Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University (BVDU) Medical College and Hospital in Pune. This is a big step forward in the development of the vaccine and gives hope to people in the struggle to contain the covid-19 pandemic.

Pune-based Serum Institute is the third firm to conduct human trials of a covid-19 vaccine in India after Bharat Biotech (for Covaxin) and Zydus Cadila (for ZyCoV-D) started phase 1 and 2 trials last month.

“Today, we have screened some patients. Tomorrow, we will get their covid antibody test reports and if they are negative we will inoculate them with the Covishield vaccine," said Sanjay Lalwani, principal investigator for the hospital.

The hospital aims to have 300-350 participants as part of the vaccine trial.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Balram Bhargava on Tuesday confirmed that the trials for the Covishield vaccine, jointly developed by the University of Oxford and pharma MNC AstraZeneca, have begun. ICMR is the secondary sponsor for the phase 2 and 3 trials of around 1,600 patients.

Screening and enrolment of participants in the vaccine trial is only done after getting approval from the ethics committee of the hospital.

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