Common Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine in India Answered 

Many vaccines for the novel coronavirus are in various stages of trial worldwide.

3 min read
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Many vaccines for the novel coronavirus are in various stages of trial worldwide. What are the preparations so far regarding vaccine production and distribution in India? We answer your frequently asked questions.

How many vaccines are being tested in India?

Human trials of 3 vaccine candidates are being conducted in India currently. Among these are two indigenous vaccine candidates - ‘Covaxin’ from Hyderabad-based company Bharat Biotech and Indian Council of Medical Research, and ‘ZyCoV-D’ vaccine from Zydus Cadila in Ahmedabad. In addition, Serum Institute of India (SII) is conducting trials for ‘Covishield’ under the vaccine project ChAdOx1 of Oxford University and Sweden’s pharma company AstraZeneca.

Which stage has the vaccine trial reached in India?

The vaccines from Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila are at phase 1 and 2 of the clinical trial stage. At the same time, Phase 2 and 3 trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been approved in India. According to NDTV, NITI Aayog member VK Paul has said that one of the three vaccines will enter Phase 3 trials soon.

How many doses will be prepared?

The Serum Institute of India (SII) entered into an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, to prepare and distribute 100 million doses of the potential COVID-19 vaccine for India and low-income countries. SII has said that it plans to produce 400 million doses of the Oxford vaccine by the end of 2020. Information about the rest of the vaccines has not been revealed yet.

Will India get the Russian vaccine?

According to a report by the news agency Reuters, production of Sputnik V, the world’s first registered vaccine, will be started in Russia in September. In the same report, it has been claimed that Russia has received requests for more than one billion doses of this vaccine from 20 countries around the world.

Kirill Dimitrij, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the funding agency for the Russian Corona vaccine project, recently stated that “vaccine production is a very important issue. At the moment, we are looking at a partnership with India. We believe that they are capable of producing the Gamalaya vaccine and will enable us to cover the demand that we have.”

When will the vaccine being prepared in India reach the people?

According to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, along with the the Oxford vaccine trial, vaccine production is also being carried out. At the same time, if the remaining 2 vaccines are successful in trials, then they will need 1 month of time for production. If the vaccine trial results are successful, then these vaccines will be available to the people by the first quarter of 2021. In a recent development, Serum Institute denied the report that their vaccine will hit the market in a couple of months. In a statement they said, “Presently, the government has granted us permission to only manufacture the vaccine and stockpile for future use. COVISHIELD will be commericalised once the trials are proven successful and all the requisite regulatory approvals are in place.”

Who will receive the first round of vaccines in India?

According to a Times of India report, after the approval of the vaccine from the regulatory body, the central government is preparing to provide 50 lakh vaccine doses in the first order. Vaccine doses will be provided first to the front line workers and army personnel. There is a possibility that the Oxford vaccine may be the first to be approved.

What will vaccine cost?

According to a report by The Indian Express, the government has enquired about the cost of the vaccine from the three developers. VK Paul, the head of the National Expert Group of Vaccine Administration and a member of the NITI Aayog, has said that all three vaccines are on trial track and are being reviewed continuously. SII has received a $150 million fund from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for vaccine production and distribution. According to the agreement with the foundation, SII will provide the vaccine at a price of Rs 240.

Which other vaccine candidates are on trial in the world?

The vaccine prepared by the American firm Moderna and China’s Synovac are in the final phase of the trial. There are more than 60 candidates in various stages of clinical trial.

(This article was first published on FIT and has been republished with permission.)

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