The Serum Institute of India on Friday sought permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine Covovax for restricted use in emergency situations at its Manjari manufacturing site, official sources said.
The company has submitted interim phase 2/3 clinical study report on Indian adults, the interim report of Novavax UK and USA-Mexico phase-3 clinical study and response to the queries raised by the DCGI office, along with its application.
There were no safety concerns arising from the study data and Covovax is safe and immunogenic in the adult population, Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at the Serum Institute of India (SII), is learnt to have said in the application sent to the DCGI.
"In our government’s endeavour to fight against COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been working shoulder to shoulder with the Government of India to make available one more safe and efficacious world class COVID-19 vaccine for our country and the world at large."
"Approval of our COVOVAX and its availability will further strengthen India’s capability to fight COVID-19 pandemic and ensure vaccine security in line with our prime minister’s clarion call of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” an official source quoted Singh as having said in the application.
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.
In the phase 2/3 study in India, more than 1,400 participants have received at least first dose of the vaccine with no safety concerns reported so far, stated the application.
In August 2020, US-based vaccine maker Novavax Inc had announced a licence agreement with SII for the development and commercialisation of NVX-CoV2373, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, in low and middle-income countries and India.
SII, which manufactures Covishield, plans to produce Covovax at its Manjari plant in Maharashtra.
India has given emergency use permission to several COVID-19 vaccines, including Covishield, Covaxin of Bharat Biotech and Russian-made Sputnik V.