Corona Vaccine: Covishield likely to be the first shot for Indians, says report

The Oxford/AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine candidate, dubbed Covishield, is likely to be the first shots available for the country

Story Highlights
  • The Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine has shown encouraging results in early human trials
  • ChAdOx1, to be called Covishield in India, is currently in the phase 3 trials across research facilities in the UK, US and Brazil

New Delhi: A promising experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford may be the first shot available for Indians by the end of this year if trials succeed, according to a report. The Serum Institute of India (SII) is starting the phase 2 clinical trials of the vaccine candidate ChAdOx1, dubbed Covishield in India, at two institutes – KEM and Nair hospitals – in Mumbai this week.

Researchers at the Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group have been at the forefront of scientific endeavour to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2.  The ChAdOx1  vaccine, a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector, is considered as one of the most promising candidates against COVID-19.

Preliminary results of the phase 1 and 2 trials showed that the vaccine induces strong immune response with no safety concerns. The researchers observed that the vaccine provoked a T-cell response (within 14 days of vaccination) and an antibody response (within 28 days). The advanced phases of trials – phase 2 and 3 – of the vaccine are being held at research facilities across the UK, US, Brazil and South Africa.

Covishield may be the first shot for India

The Serum Institute is expected to start the phase 2 trials of Covishield at two Mumbai’s hospitals this week. India currently has three COVID-19 vaccines that are in different stages of clinical testing. The Oxford’s candidate ChAdOx1 is ahead of the other two indigenously developed vaccines for COVID-19 disease, reported TOI citing a source. COVAXIN, India’s first indigenous coronavirus vaccine, developed jointly by Bharat Biotech and ICMR, and Zydus Cadila’s Zycov D are both in early phases of clinical trials. Zydus Cadila, which has given the second dose of its COVID-19 vaccine a few days ago, said it plans to launch the jab by next year. 

Meanwhile, Dr VK Paul, head of the national task force on COVID-19, during a weekly press briefing revealed that one of these three candidates entered the third phase of the pre-clinical human trial by Wednesday.

Serum Institute will start the trials involving 1,600 people aged above 18 years in across 17 sites in the country, added the report. The Pune-based company inked a landmark deal with British drug giant AstraZeneca to manufacture and distribute the vaccine.

Recently, SII also struck a deal with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to accelerate the manufacturing and delivery process of up to 100 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines for India and low-income countries. SII had said that it plans to make 400 million doses of the Oxford vaccine by the end of 2020.

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