Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said if the advanced clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine succeed, then the vaccine is likely to be available by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Nearly 30 coronavirus vaccine candidates are under development in India, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on September 18. Three of the nearly 30 coronavirus vaccine candidates in the country are in advanced stages of clinical trials, while four are in the pre-clinical development stage, Vardhan said.
A high-level expert group is looking into matters related to vaccine distribution and immunisation, he said.
"Nationally, nearly 30 vaccine candidates are under development, by both industry and academia. These vaccines are in different stages of pre-clinical and clinical development of which three candidates are in the advanced stage of Phase I/II/III trials and four are in the advanced pre-clinical development stage," Harsh Vardhan said in a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha.
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.
"Once available, the coronavirus vaccine distribution follows the same route as for the current practice of vaccines distribution under Universal Immunisation Program (UIP)," he added.
So far, 44,452 clinical samples and 17 virus isolates have been collected which are accessible to researchers and industry for developing diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, the minister said.
In a separate reply, the Health Minister said that if the advanced clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine succeed, then the vaccine is likely to be available by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
The Ministry of AYUSH received 154 misleading advertisements on AYUSH-related claims for COVID-19 treatment from different parts of the country till August 2020, he said in response to a question.
The ministry has issued directives to state/UTs to initiate necessary action against the defaulters and alleged manufacturers/ advertisers acting in contravention of the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, he informed the Lok Sabha.
The states/UTs have also been directed to send details of the clinical trials of AYUSH medicines claimed for the prevention or treatment of coronavirus for verification, he said.
The minister was responding to a question on whether people have been adversely affected due to consumption of immunity drugs or medicinal formulas in the wake of COVID-19 cases across the country, and the corrective measures initiated to check the sale/procurement and consumption of such drugs.
Instances of adverse effects due to consumption of above-mentioned immunity-boosting drugs are not reported from the states and UTs, Vardhan said.
"But, incidences of COVID-19 related exaggerated claims and misleading advertisements of ASU drugs have been reported by pharmacovigilance centres and forwarded to State Licensing Authorities/Drug Controllers and individual advertisers/manufacturers for corrective action," he said.
"The Ministry of AYUSH received 154 misleading advertisements on AYUSH-related claims for COVID-19 treatment from different parts of the country till August 2020," he said.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of COVID-19 outbreak