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Coronavirus vaccine update: Serum Institute to start human trials in August

Serum Institute of India is also developing a live attenuated vaccine with US-based biotech firm Codagenix, which is undergoing pre-clinical trials.

July 20, 2020 / 11:45 AM IST
2 | Next crop of COVID-19 vaccine developers take more traditional route: The handful of drugmakers dominating the global coronavirus vaccine race are pushing the boundaries of vaccine technology. The next crop under development feature more conventional, proven designs. The world will need several different vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, given the sheer size of global need, variations in effects on different populations, and possible limits of effectiveness in the first crop. Many leading candidates now in final-stage testing are based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed.

2 | Next crop of COVID-19 vaccine developers take more traditional route: The handful of drugmakers dominating the global coronavirus vaccine race are pushing the boundaries of vaccine technology. The next crop under development feature more conventional, proven designs. The world will need several different vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, given the sheer size of global need, variations in effects on different populations, and possible limits of effectiveness in the first crop. Many leading candidates now in final-stage testing are based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed.

Serum Institute of India is hoping to develop a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020. The institute said that it will be starting human trials of its AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine from August. Vaccines normally require years of testing and additional time to produce at scale, but scientists are hoping to develop a coronavirus vaccine within months because of the pandemic.

"We are working on the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine which is undergoing phase III clinical trials. Besides, we will also start human trials in India in August 2020. Based on the current situation and most recent updates on the clinical trials, we are hoping that the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine will be available towards the end of 2020," Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla told news agency PTI.

Vaccine testing is a four-stage process -- pre-clinical testing on animals, phase I clinical testing on a small group of people to determine its safety and to learn more about the immune response it provokes, phase II trials are expanded safety trials, and phase III testing is done by administering it to thousands of people to confirm its efficacy.

The company is also developing a live attenuated vaccine with US-based biotech firm Codagenix, which is undergoing pre-clinical trials, Poonawalla added.

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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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"Apart from AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine and Codagenix, we have associated with multiple institutions worldwide as manufacturing partners for vaccine candidates that are being developed. These include Austria's Themis along with two others," Poonawalla said.

On the partnership with AstraZeneca, he said, "Serum Institute of India has entered a manufacturing partnership with AstraZeneca to produce and supply 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University."

These vaccines will be for India and middle and low-income countries across the world (GAVI countries), he added.

At least seven Indian pharma companies are working to develop a vaccine against coronavirus as they join global efforts to find a preventive to check the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute, Zydus Cadila, Panacea Biotec, Indian Immunologicals, Mynvax and Biological E are among the domestic pharma firms working on the coronavirus vaccines in India.

Also read: Bharat Biotech starts human trials of Covaxin

Vaccines typically provide the immune system with harmless copies of an antigen: a portion of the surface of a bacterium or virus that the immune system recognises as foreign.

A vaccine may also provide a non-active version of a toxin -- a poison produced by a bacterium -- so that the body can devise a defence against it. They must follow higher safety standards than other drugs because they are given to millions of healthy people.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Moneycontrol News
first published: Jul 20, 2020 11:45 am

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