India could soon become a hub for manufacture of cheap and effective COVID vaccines and there is a high probability that the world would depend on us for large-scale vaccination, said Dr NK Arora, chairperson of the Union government’s COVID Working Group.
Dr Arora’s optimism stems from the progress made by Hyderabad-based Biological E’s indigenous vaccine, which likely to be 90 per cent effective against COVID. Recently, the Centre booked 300 million doses of Biological E’s Corbevax vaccine, which is currently in Phase III trial and is likely to be available in October.
Corbevax’s 90 per cent efficacy is on a par with US’ Novovax, which will be manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute, which also produces Oxford AstraZeneca’s Covishield.
Scientists are upbeat about Corbevax, which they say will be a game-changer in the fight against COVID-19.
“Novavax [of Serum Institute] is very exciting. In the past week it has created a rage because India is going to manufacture almost a billion doses a year. It is going to be simple and cheaper with a 90 per cent vaccine effectiveness,” Dr Arora told NDTV.
Biological E is a 73-year-old vaccine manufacturer, based in Hyderabad, and is known the world over as the largest manufacturer of tetanus vaccine. Its Corbevax looks promising because it is priced at just ₹250 for two doses.
Dr Arora, who is also chairperson of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), also mentioned Zydus-Cadila’s upcoming jab and another messenger RNA-based vaccine, which will be made by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals in Pune.
The messenger (m) RNA vaccine is under phase 2 trials and will be ready by September. The government is very optimistic about this vaccine because it is ease to store, transport and has a higher shelf life.
Dr Arora said India is emerging as a hub for COVID vaccines primarily because of their high effectiveness, low price and easy availability in the days to come. He told a TV news channel, “I know that every country is looking at India because most poor countries have no source of vaccine. Today it is easier to buy weapons than to buy vaccines.”
India seems to be recovering from a deadly second wave, but the threat of a possible third wave still looms large with experts anticipating another surge in cases in September.
On Thursday, 67,208 new cases were recorded, taking India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,97,00,313. The active case count declined to 8,26,740 — the lowest in more than two months.