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30 Indian groups working to develop vaccine for covid

New Delhi: Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Prof K Vijay Raghavan addresses a press conference on the development of drugs, vaccines and technologies for testing during COVID-19 Pandemic, in New Delhi, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (PIB/PTI Photo)(PTI28-05-2020_000241B) (PTI)Premium
New Delhi: Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Prof K Vijay Raghavan addresses a press conference on the development of drugs, vaccines and technologies for testing during COVID-19 Pandemic, in New Delhi, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (PIB/PTI Photo)(PTI28-05-2020_000241B) (PTI)

  • Globally, 10 vaccine candidates have entered the human trial stage, according to the WHO
  • The WHO’s list of firms from India involved in developing a vaccine for the highly infectious disease includes the Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, Indian Immunologicals Limited, and Bharat Biotech

NEW DELHI : About 20 groups in India are making quick progress in their efforts to develop a vaccine for covid-19, the government’s principal scientific adviser, Dr K. Vijayraghavan said on Thursday. These groups are among the 30 in India who are aggressively trying to develop a vaccine.

“There are about 30 groups in India, big industry to individual academics, who are trying to develop a vaccine. Some companies are in late pre-clinical stage. Vaccine development usually takes 10-15 years. However, considering the seriousness of the pandemic, we need it within one year," said Vijayraghavan, who is also co-chair of the government’s covid-19 task force on scientific development.

“The world is investing in more than 100 vaccines as covid-19 is a new disease and we have to get a vaccine as soon as possible. The entire process will cost $2-3 billion," Vijayraghavan said. Even after a vaccine is available, access will remain a challenge, he said.

The principal scientific adviser’s statement came as the number of coronavirus cases in India crossed 160,000, among the 10 highest in the world.

The fight against coronavirus will be won through vaccine and drugs, said Dr V.K. Paul, member, NITI Aayog.

Ten vaccine candidates from across the world have entered the human trial stage and 115 are in pre-clinical evaluation stage or pre-human trial stage, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) draft landscape of covid-19 candidate vaccines on Thursday. As of now, US biotechnology company Moderna Inc and China’s Cansino Biologics Inc have reported successful results in human trials.

The WHO’s list of firms from India involved in developing a vaccine for the highly infectious disease includes the Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, Indian Immunologicals Limited, and Bharat Biotech.

Vijayraghavan said designing drugs to combat covid-19 is challenging, though so far there has been no change in the fundamental properties of the virus.

On drug discovery, the government said that it is adopting three approaches. The first approach is repurposing existing drugs. The second is testing extracts from herbal and medicinal plants, while the third is using a variety of approaches for new drug discovery, including a hackathon for computational drug discovery.

“In the next few months, covid-19 tests would be available, both nationally and internationally, that could be done on an individual. RT-PCR tests for virus genetic material. Now, a second test is in the offing to check for virus particles. There are variations of RT-PCR, The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi developed one," Vijayraghavan said.

Till the time a vaccine is made available, so far, total 67,691 people have been cured in India. In the past 24 hours, 3,266 patients were found cured. This takes the country’s total recovery rate to 42.75%.

Meanwhile, the government said changes in the covid-19 discharge policy shortening hospital stays, have improved the recovery rate.

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