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Coronavirus vaccine update: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may be the first shot available for Indians

Pune-based Serum Institute of India is a manufacturing partner of AstraZeneca for manufacturing the potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford.

August 19, 2020 / 07:57 PM IST

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India looks for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate to be the likely first shot available for Indians by the end of 2020.

There are also two indigenously developed vaccine candidates, which are also being expected to get launched with a gap of few weeks if cleared in trials, said a report by The Times of India citing officials.

However, the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford is ahead of the other two local vaccine candidates that have also entered the human clinical trials, the report stated.

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is a manufacturing partner of British pharma giant AstraZeneca for manufacturing the potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford.

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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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The SII, which has been permitted for conducting advanced phases of human clinical trials of the candidate in India, has started Phases 2 and 3 trials, said the report.

Meanwhile, the locally developed vaccine candidates -- Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, jointly developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Zydus Cadila’s Zycov D are both in early phases of human clinical trials, as per the report.

The trials by SII are the largest, which is being conducted with around 1,600 people aged above 18 years in across 17 selected sites across the country, for the COVID-19 vaccine in the country so far. For the trials of the other two vaccine candidates, there have been around 1,000-1,100 participants enrolled in five to eight sites, said the report.

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Also, in comparison of other vaccines being developed outside India, the Oxford vaccine candidate has scored better as it has an Indian company – SII -- as a manufacturing and distribution partner.

SII, which plans to make 100 million doses of vaccine every month and 400 million doses of the Oxford vaccine by the end of 2020, recently received $150 million from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the vaccine development and distribution. GAVI has also announced funding for manufacturing initial shots of the vaccine in the country, added the report.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
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first published: Aug 19, 2020 08:30 am
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