Tuesday, May 3, 2022

India health authorities betting on AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech vaccines

New Delhi: Despite Pfizer becoming the first company to release successful interim data for large scale Covid-19 vaccine trials, Indian health authorities are of the view that the AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech candidates remain the country’s best options for an early vaccine. Officials said while Pfizer has released its data earlier, these two vaccines are at equally advanced stages of Phase-3 clinical trials. Moreover, unlike the Pfizer experimental vaccine, these two candidates are undergoing trials in India and will be available as soon as the tests are successfully completed.

“India will have to focus on the indigenous vaccines and the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. These vaccines are being tested in the India population and this is a major advantage over any other potential candidate,” said a senior government official.

Over 200 coronavirus vaccine candidates are being developed around the world and the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine is considered one of the frontrunners. Indian health authorities are closely monitoring the last stage trial results of the Oxford vaccine, which are likely to be released either this month or next month.

“It’s a two dose vaccine. One thousand people in India have already got the shot. Phase-3 trials in India will get over by next month and the trial results will pave the way for approval by regulators. The vaccine could be available as soon as the final trials are completed,” said an industry expert. Indian health authorities are also closely monitoring the last stage trial results of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is likely to come out this month.

“The Oxford vaccine could be available as soon as the final trials are completed. The trial results will pave the way for its approval by the regulators,” added the expert.

The other two candidates which are being tested in India belong to Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila.

Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, which is being developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is also conducting Phase-3 trials and could be launched earlier than expected. Late-stage trials began this month with preliminary results showing that it is safe and effective.

Meanwhile, Zydus Cadila is expected to test its potential Covid vaccine (ZyCoV-D) on about 30,0000 people in its Phase-3 which are scheduled to begin next month. As of now the company has completed dosing (the amount of vaccine given to the participants as per the protocol) of Phase-2 on 1,000 participants and plans to submit data to India’s drug regulator this month.

Pfizer on Monday announced that its experimental Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective based on initial trial results. But as reported by ET on its Tuesday edition, this vaccine is unlilkely to benefit India in the near future. Most of the initial doses of the vaccine have been reserved for the US markets. The distribution of the vaccine will also present serious challenges in India because it requires super cold storage chain.

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