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COVID-19 vaccine | Anand Mahindra lauds SII's Adar Poonawalla, says 'Covishield' possibly the best bet for India

AstraZeneca announced that its COVID-19 vaccine's clinical trials in Brazil and the United Kingdom had shown higher effectiveness in combating the infection.

November 24, 2020 / 02:31 PM IST

Mahindra and Mahindra group chairman Anand Mahindra on November 23 lauded Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO and owner Adar Poonawalla, stating that SII-AstraZeneca's 'Covishield' vaccine could be one of the best bets for India in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mahindra in his tweet also hailed Poonawalla for making the COVID-19 vaccine economical and effective. He opined that easier storage and transportability of this vaccine makes it possibly the best bet for India.

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine update | India may approve emergency use once AstraZeneca gets UK nod: VK Paul

"Interestingly the more effective dosage will be more economical. And the easier storage & transportability of this vaccine makes it possibly the best bet for India. This is seriously good news. Let’s get this show on the road @adarpoonawalla," Mahindra said in a tweet.

Earlier on Monday, AstraZeneca made an announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine's clinical trials in Brazil and the United Kingdom had shown higher effectiveness in combating the infection.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"One dosing regimen showed vaccine efficacy of 90 percent when AZD1222 was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart, and another dosing regimen showed 62 percent efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70 percent," The pharmaceutical firm said.

Sharing the good news, Poonawalla expressed his happiness. Poonawalla's SII has a production and distribution alliance with AstraZeneca and Oxford University for their COVID-vaccine candidate.

"I am delighted to hear that, Covishield, a low-cost, logistically manageable & soon to be widely available, #COVID19 vaccine, will offer protection up to 90 percent in one type of dosage regime and 62 percent in the other dosage regime. Further details on this will be provided this evening," Poonawalla wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Niti Aayog member VK Paul on November 23 expected emergency authorisation for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be sought in the UK. Following this, if approved, the Indian government may provide emergency use authorisation to Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

Currently, Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is undergoing final-stage Phase 3 clinical trials in India. As per expectations, the Phase 3 clinical trials of SII vaccine should be over by January/February 2021, following which market authorisation can be sought.

SII has already manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine and has received manufacturing and stockpiling licence from the Drugs Controller General of India. Poonawalla claims to produce 30-40 crore doses of the Oxford vaccine for use by the first quarter of 2021.

In India, four-five vaccines are under different phases of clinical trials. They are Serum Institute of India (Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine), Bharat Biotech-IMCR (COVAXIN), Dr Reddy's Laboratories (Sputnik-V) and Cadila Healthcare’s ZyCovD.
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