The COVID-19 pandemic is causing endless anxiety, fears and losses. The case count is increasing in every country and we are all scared. Everyone is asking when will there be a vaccine that will help us go back to normalcy?
Fortunately, a number of vaccine candidates are undergoing human trials worldwide, including 2 in our country. Recently, a vaccine from Oxford University has been getting a lot of attention from the media. What is it? And will it be available in India? Read on to know everything about this vaccine.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine
The Oxford University in collaboration with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca prepared a coronavirus vaccine candidate called AZD1222. It has been tested on 1077 individuals in an 18-55 age group in 2 phases.
The results, which were published in the Lancet journal, are very promising. It was found that the vaccine increased the number of antibodies by four times. The ability of the body to neutralize the coronavirus increased by 91% within a month of administering the vaccine. A second dose increased it to 100%. The vaccine has been shown to enhance T-cell immune response, which is crucial for preventing viral attacks.
More trials will be conducted in the US, Brazil, India and South Africa to find out if the vaccine is equally effective across age groups and ethnicities.
Which phase of the trial will be conducted in India?
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the Government of India has said that it is crucial to conduct a human trial in the country to make sure that the vaccine works on Indian people before the vaccination programme is rolled out.
DBT will conduct phase 3 trials of AZD1222. The Serum Institute of India has also sought permission from the Drug Controller General of India to carry out both phase 2 and phase 3 trials.
The trials are expected to start in early August and will conclude in December. Over the next few months, AZD1222 will be administered to more than 4000 people in India.
What are the 5 trial sites?
The 5 sites chosen by DBT where the trials will be conducted are-
- INCLEN Trust International in Palwal, Haryana
- KEM in Pune
- Society for Health Allied Research in Hyderabad
- National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai
- Christian Medical College in Vellore
What does it mean for India?
Oxford University and AstraZeneca have chosen Serum Institute of India (the largest vaccine producer internationally) to be their partner in manufacturing AZD1222 when it has cleared all human trials.
Serum Institute of India (SII) has assured that all preparations are being taken to make sure that bulk production can start as soon as the vaccine is given the green light. Millions of doses will be ready to be rolled out right after the vaccine is approved.
Another question on everyone’s mind is what will the vaccine be priced at? Even though there is no clarity on that yet, SII has promised that access of all to the life-saving vaccine will be made possible with very affordable pricing. Some reports have hinted that it may be made free of cost through the Government’s inoculation programme.
Hopefully, we will have a vaccine soon. But until that happens, follow the coronavirus protocol, stay home as much as possible, and maintain hygiene and social distancing to keep your loved ones and your country safe.