Monday, October 26, 2020

Covid Vaccine by March, Govt. hopeful

  • Availability & Distribution big problem 
Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
New Delhi, Oct 25

Even as a high-level National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration is working hard to prepare a blue-print as to who should be given the Vaccine first and how, encouraging reports are emerging about success of at least ten vaccines under trials globally.

The Prime Minister’s Task Force handling Vaccine program in tandem with countries and world agencies, is hopeful of availability of 3-4 vaccines early next year. Dr V K Paul headed Task Force reviewed Vaccine availability. Of them, at least three vaccines in India are at Phase-III of the trials of ten global vaccines undergoing phase-III trials. In addition to these 10, five Chinese vaccines are under trials in 20 countries and one is showing some success. A UAE minister was injected with the Chinese vaccine last week and is feeling fine.

The Bharat Biotech-ICMR joint venture drug Covaxin, ZydusCadila (phase-II) and Seerum-AstraZenca’s Covidshield is at Phase-III stage. In addition, Biological E, a Hyderabad based company is also testing a vaccine. This apart, Sputink V of Russia is also in phase II stage and crosses the hump for phase III trials.

Of the 154 vaccines in the preclinical phase, 44 in clinical trials, of which 10 are already in phase 3 trials, the first major success on this score may emerge by early next year. Florian Krammer, Professor of Vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, U.S, Dr. Gagandeep Kang of Christian Medical College, Vellore and other experts said at a webinar said vaccines will be available early. Even if vaccines are eventually licensed and enter the market, there will be many hurdles to be crossed.

Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, said separately that it will take at least a year to immunize the whole country. He emphasized that India will have to keep evolving its vaccine distribution strategy, keeping in mind what is best for the country. Other experts felt that issues relating to large-scale production, distribution, success of the vaccine after it is inoculated, how long immunity will last etc. will need more careful handling.