India may get a coronavirus vaccine by year-end; Trump considers fast-tracking Oxford jab for use in US


New Delhi: India may get a vaccine against the novel coronavirus by the end of 2020, if all goes well, said Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. Currently, three experimental vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are in different phases of clinical studies across the country.

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is in the process of creating an online vaccine portal which will provide all information and updates related to COVID-19 vaccine development in India and abroad.

“The aim of creating the website is to provide all information and updates relating to the COVID-19 vaccine development on one platform as all the information in this regard is scattered as of now, Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR,” was quoted as saying by PTI on Saturday.

India may get COVID-19 vaccine by year-end

“I hope that if everything goes well, India will get a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year,” Dr Vardhan said in a tweet in Hindi on Saturday.

ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava had recently revealed that the two indigenous COVID-19 vaccine candidates, COVAXIN developed by ICMR-Bharat Biotech and the ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila Ltd, have completed and the phase 1 human clinical trials and entered phase 2 study.

The phase 3 trials for the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate, dubbed Covishield in India and manufactured jointly by the Serum Institute of India (SII), are currently underway in research facilities across the UK and other countries, including US and Brazil. Reports suggest that the phase 2 trials of Covishield are likely to begin this week in India at some sites selected for the study.

The DCGI had granted permission to SII for conducting the phase 2/3 trials of the Oxford vaccine candidate in India. The Pune-based firm had been allowed to manufacture and stockpile the vaccine for future use – once trials for Covishield are proven successful and all the requisite regulatory approvals are in place.

Trump may fast track Oxford vaccine before the election

According to a Financial Times report, President Donal Trump is considering fast-tracking the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 for use in the US ahead of the nation’s upcoming presidential election. The report, citing three people who briefed on the plan, said that one option would involve the US Food and Drug Administration awarding “emergency use authorisation” for the vaccine. The development came amid report of President Trump slamming the FDA for trying to slow down the human trials of vaccines for COVID-19, which has so far claimed at least 805,470 people worldwide.

However, AstraZeneca told the FT that it hasn’t discussed an emergency use authorisation for its potential vaccine with the US government. Meanwhile, the FDA has given emergency authorisation for the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients.

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