Currently, phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine candidate is going on in the United Kingdom, phase 3 clinical trial in Brazil and phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in South Africa.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given nod to the Serum Institute of India (SII) for conducting phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed by the University of Oxford, in the country.
Government officials told PTI that the approval for conducting phase 2 and 3 clinical trials by the SII was granted by DCGI Dr VG Somani late mnight on August 2 after a thorough evaluation based on the recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee on COVID-19.
As a rapid regulatory response, the expert panel at the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on July 31, after a detailed deliberation and considering the data generated on the vaccine candidate in phase 1 and 2 of the Oxford University trial, had recommended granting permission for phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the potential vaccine, 'Covishield', on healthy adults in India, the officials 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.
"The firm has to submit safety data, evaluated by the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), to the CDSCO before proceeding to phase 3 clinical trials," a senior official said.
"As per the study design, each subject will be administered two doses four weeks apart (first dose on day one and second dose on day 29) following which the safety and immunogenicity will be assessed at predefined intervals," the official said.
Currently, phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine candidate is going on in the United Kingdom, phase 3 clinical trial in Brazil and phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in South Africa.
The officials said that the SII had submitted a revised proposal on Wednesday after the expert panel on Tuesday, following deliberation over its application, had asked it to revise its protocol for the phase 2 and 3 clinical trials besides seeking some additional information.
The panel has also recommended that the clinical trial sites which have been proposed for the study be distributed across India.
According to the revised proposal, 1,600 people aged above 18 years will participate in the trials across 17 selected sites, including AIIMS Delhi, B J Medical College in Pune, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS) in Patna, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, AIIMS-Jodhpur, Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur, Andhra Medical College in Visakhapatnam and JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in Mysore.
"According to the application, it would conduct an observer-blind, randomised controlled study to determine the safety and immunogenicity of 'Covishield' on healthy Indian adults," the official said.
The SII, which has partnered with AstraZeneca, for manufacturing the Oxford vaccine candidate for COVID-19 had submitted its first application to the DCGI on July 25 seeking permission for conducting the phase 2 and 3 trials of the potential vaccine.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic