How Soon Can India Get Its Hands on Oxford’s “Safe” Coronavirus Vaccine?


How Soon Can India Get Its Hands on Oxford’s “Safe” Coronavirus Vaccine?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The global fight against coronavirus is focussed on developing a vaccine for Covid-19. This novel disease currently has no vaccination against it, and countries around the world are scrambling to develop one that will help stop the rampant spread of the virus. In the United Kingdom, a team of researchers at Oxford University has been working on developing a vaccine since April, and has recently announced the good news that its vaccine candidate has had a favourable response in its first phase of clinical trials.

AstraZeneca is the name of the biopharmaceutical firm partnered with the researchers at Oxford University. Their vaccine candidate is being called AZD1222, or ChAdOx1 nCoV alternatively. Reports in the medical journal The Lancet found that the vaccine successfully neutralised the SARS-CoV2 virus in trials on human hosts. It is safe and induces an immune reaction. The report also stated that Phase 3 trials were necessary to determine how effective this vaccine candidate would be in fighting coronavirus on a worldwide scale.

In India, there are vaccine candidates in development as well. However, a report by NDTV quoted Adar Poonawalla, of the Serum Institute of India, as saying that they would be applying to the relevant authorities for permission to manufacture the Oxford vaccine in India. Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines and is partnered with the research team at Oxford University. “We will be applying for the licensure trials to the Indian regulator in a week’s time. As soon as they grant us permission, we will begin with the trials for the vaccine in India. In addition, we will soon start manufacturing the vaccine in large volumes,” he said in the report. The Serum Institute of India has set a target of August to begin trials of the vaccine in India.

“I cannot comment on the amount of doses we have made so far, but we plan to make millions of doses over the next three months after we get the manufacturing licence,” Poonawalla told The Indian Express.

The Oxford vaccine is promising step forward in the search for a cure against Covid-19. Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, said, “Oxford vaccine has an 80% probability of being effective in stopping people who are exposed to the novel coronavirus from developing COVID-19.” After months of research, it appears the efforts of scientists working to develop vaccines are starting to bear fruit.