India may have a ‘safe and effective’ COVID vaccine by January

Based on the success of trials, and if approvals from regulatory bodies are in place in time, the vaccine will be available soon, says Serum Institute

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Since each jab will take at least 30 minutes to administer, only 100 shots will be administered in each session.

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has said that a safe and effective vaccine against novel coronavirus may be available in India by January 2021.

“Based on the success of the trials in India and the United Kingdom, and if approvals from regulatory bodies are in place in time, then we can expect the vaccine to be available in India by January 2021, only if it’s proven immunogenic and efficacious,” Poonawalla said in an interview with Mint.

Also read: Bengal begins preparing for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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At the initial level, Serum aims to manufacture about 60-70 million doses of its experimental vaccine – Covishield.

The Pune-based drugmaker has teamed up with British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca to produce the coronavirus vaccine for low-and-middle income countries. The vaccine candidate has been developed by University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca. Covishield, the vaccine, is currently in the Phase II/III clinical trials stage in the country.

Meanwhile, Oxford University Vaccine Trial Chief Investigator Andrew Pollard told Reuters that the vaccine developed by the University could present late-stage trial results before the end of the year, but it is unclear if it will be rolled out before Christmas.

Poonawalla assured that the trials are going on fine and there are no immediate concerns pertaining to Covishield. “So far, thousands of people have had it in India and abroad with no safety concerns,” he said. However it will take two to three years to ascertain the long-term effects of the vaccine, Poonawalla added.

Covishield is one of the most advanced vaccine candidates in the fight against coronavirus.

On the price of the vaccine, Poonawalla said, “We are in conversation with the government regarding the pricing. We are certain that it will be affordable for all.”

Also read: India’s COVID-19 count rises to 82.29 lakh, active cases decline

Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to support Serum Institute of India’s manufacturing of two promising vaccines by University of Oxford and Novavax under the condition that the Pune-based firm prices the two vaccines at a maximum of $3 per dose.

‘Ultrapotent’ – A new vaccine candidate that promises better results

The race to develop a strong vaccine against coronavirus is on as scientists have developed a new “ultrapotent” Covid-19 vaccine candidate that has produced “extremely high levels” of protective antibodies in animal models.

Most importantly, the vaccine has the potential to ensure protection against mutated strains of the coronavirus.

While conducting trials on mice, scientists found that the ‘ultrapotent’ vaccine candidate has the capability to produce more virus-neutralising antibodies as compared to people who have recovered from the disease.

When the vaccine was given to a nonhuman primate, scientists said it produced neutralising antibodies, targeting different sites on the spike protein of the coronavirus, which it uses to enter human cells.

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