Two volunteers were administered a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford as part of its phase II trials at Bharti Vidyapeeth's Medical College and Hospital in Pune.
Pune-based Serum Institute of India has partnered with AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine, named Covishield.
"Five volunteers were tested for RT-PCR and antibodies, out of which reports of three showed they have anti-bodies, hence the vaccine was administered to two," Medical Director of Bharti Vidyapeeth's Medical Hospital told news agency ANI.
The first shot, according to Sanjay Lalwani, the medical director, was administered to a 32-year-old man after his COVID-19 reports and antibodies tests came out negative.
Another 48-year-old male volunteer was also given the vaccine, he added. The two volunteers are being monitored, Lalwani said.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
He said the hospital has been given a target of enlisting 300 to 350 volunteers. Those chosen for receiving a dose of the vaccine will be in the age group of 18 to 99 years.
The other hospitals where trials are to be conducted include B J Medical College Hospital in Pune, AIIMS Delhi, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur and Andhra Medical College in Visakhapatnam.
SII, the world's largest vaccine maker, has signed an agreement to manufacture the potential vaccine developed by the Jenner Institute of Oxford University in collaboration with British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca.
The other site of phase II trial in Pune -- B J Medical College (to which the Sassoon General Hospital is attached) -- is ready and waiting for the vaccine candidate to arrive, a top official said.
"We have completed all the administrative procedures required to conduct the human trials of the vaccine. We are now waiting for the doses," said college Dean Dr Murlidhar Tambe. "Ideally, the trials should start next week," he added.