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A volunteer participates in the vaccine trial in Oxford, England (AP)
A volunteer participates in the vaccine trial in Oxford, England (AP)

India's COVID-19 vaccine: From price to production, companies brief expert panel on progress

  • The panel also discussed whether the vaccine makers need any help from the government to ramp up production
  • Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and ZyCoVD by Zydus Cadilla are two home-grown COVID-19 vaccine candidates

The top-five vaccine manufacturers in the country, on Monday, briefed the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration about the development of COVID-19 vaccines in India. At present, there are three COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the country. Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and ZyCoVD by Zydus Cadilla are two home-grown COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Serum Institute of India has partnered with British Swedish firm AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine developed by University of Oxford. Apart from these three firms, top executives of Biological E and Gennova Biopharmaceuticals also made presentation at the meeting.

The panel also discussed whether they need any help from the government to ramp up production if their candidate vaccines are found safe and effective in clinical trials.

The expert group earlier discussed the creation of a digital infrastructure for inventory management and delivery mechanism of a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available. It also discussed the procurement strategy for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The expert committee formed by the central government, includes Dr VK Paul, a member (health) at the NITI Aayog, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, representatives of the ministries of external affairs, biotechnology, information technology, the Director General of Health services, India’s Aids Research Institute, the Indian Council of Medical Research, and also representatives from states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said, "When scientists will give us the green signal, it will be produced on a mass scale and all preparations have been made for it."

"I want to tell people, the talent of our scientists is like that of 'rishi munis' and they are working very hard in laboratories," Modi added while addressing the nation on Independence Day.

India with its "great track record in low cost drug manufacturing" will play a major role against coronavirus, believes Nobel laureate Peter Charles Doherty. "Given India’s great track record in low cost drug and vaccine manufacture, we expect that India will be a major player. This is, after all, the fastest way to return global economic activity," said Doherty.

India's first COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin has been developed by Bharat BioTech, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV). Hyderabad-based vaccine maker has "successfully completed" Phase-I human clinical trials of the vaccine and Phase-II will start soon, Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Another vaccine was developed by Zydus Cadila. Dubbed as ZyCoV-D, Zydus' COVID-19 vaccine commenced phase II clinical trials from August 6. "ZyCoV-D was found to be safe and well tolerated in the phase I clinical trial," the drug maker said.

"All the subjects in phase I clinical trial were closely monitored in a clinical pharmacological unit for 24 hours post dosing for safety and for 7 days thereafter and the vaccine was found to be very safe," Zydus Cadila Chairman Pankaj R Patel said.

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