Hinting that India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin may soon be cleared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the global health agency on Thursday said that the data of the final phase of trials for Covaxin “looks good”.
Speaking to CNBC TV-18, Swaminathan said the pre-submission meeting between WHO and Covaxin about its Phase 3 trial data was held on June 23 and that the data packet is being assembled.
“The overall efficacy is quite high. The vaccine efficacy against the Delta variant is low but it is still quite good,” she said.
“We keep a close eye on all vaccines which have received emergency use listing. We continue to seek more data,” she told the news channel.
Bharat Biotech which recently made public its findings from the Phase 3 efficacy analysis of its vaccine, has claimed that Covaxin shots show an overall efficacy of 77.8 per cent against COVID. The vaccine, however, provides 65.2 per cent protection against the Delta strain (B.1.617.2), the variant responsible for the second wave of the pandemic in India.
Stating that WHO still doesn’t recommend booster shots for India, Swaminathan said the government should first ensure primary immunization of at least 60-70 per cent of the country’s population. She said India can focus on booster shots, like the UK is doing, once a sizeable chunk of its population has been vaccinated.
She cautioned that precautions should be taken against the Delta variant which has the potential to infect six to eight people as against the original strain which could only infect three people.
Jointly developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR, Covaxin is one of three vaccines that are being used in the government’s vaccination drive. The delay by WHO in approving the vaccine has put paid to foreign travel plans of many who have been administered Covaxin shots, as several countries are only accepting vaccines that have been approved by the WHO.