Nearly 30 candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine are under development across the country, by industry and academia.
Being at the forefront of covid-19 vaccine development in the world, India, the second-most populous country in the world, is not only aiming to inoculate maximum number of its people against coronavirus but is also aggressively conducting research on decoding the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The Vaccine Maitri Initiative has been launched in line with the principle of contributing to the healthcare needs of the global community and as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the UN Summit and Vaccine Summit. Free supplies of covid-19 vaccine have been sent to neighbouring countries including Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Consignments are also being made available to Myanmar, Mauritius, and Seychelles. Vaccine supplies to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are also being considered. Commercial supplies are also being considered for Brazil, Morocco, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.
Covax is in discussion with many countries and decisions will depend on vaccine manufacturing capacities and availability. Under Vaccine Maitri, the DBT along with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), is working closely with the ministry of external affairs and has launched the Partnerships for Accelerating Clinical Trials (PACT) programme for strengthening clinical trial capacity for covid-19 vaccine development in neighbouring and friendly countries.
The PACT initiative has two major components, facilitation of phase III clinical trials of Indian covid vaccines whereby phase III clinical trials of Covaxin in Bangladesh and Myanmar are under consideration, and training for strengthening clinical trial capacities.
The training is being organized to build capacities of the investigators, health workers, technicians, nurses and support staff from hospitals, community health centres, other health agencies, and field sites to gain knowledge of the processes for conduct of trials in compliance with International Conference on Harmonisation- Good Clinical Practise (ICH-GCP) guidelines.
Mission Covid Suraksha, has been launched by the DBT, to accelerate the indigenous covid-19 vaccine development efforts and bring the vaccines to market. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield have already been accorded emergency use authorization. In addition, five vaccine candidates are in various stages of clinical development. The DNA vaccine candidate by Zydus Cadila ZyCov-D and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine candidate are in Phase III clinical trials. The protein subunit vaccine candidate by Biological E is in the Phase I/II clinical trials stage of development. The mRNA Vaccine candidate by Gennova and the nasal single dose vaccine of Bharat Biotech have also been authorised for phase I trial.