New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said India is ready to ramp up the production of as many as three Covid-19 vaccines as soon as they are green-lit by scientists.
In his Independence Day address at Red Fort, PM Modi said, “India today has three vaccines that are in the stage of clinical testing. We are also ready to massively scale up production of these vaccines, as soon as scientists give a green signal.”
The PM also lauded the efforts of the ‘Corona warriors’ — doctors, nurses, healthcare staff, and sanitation workers — for serving people selflessly for an extended long period of time during the pandemic.
He also expressed condolence for all the families who lost their loved ones during the pandemic. “I believe that the will power of the 130 crore Indians will make us victorious in the fight against coronavirus,” Modi said.
While Modi did not name the three vaccines in his speech, ThePrint brings you details about them, which are in advanced stages of development and trials in India, and who is developing them.
India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, developed by Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has begun human clinical trials.
Covaxin vaccine falls under the category of inactivated vaccines. In such candidates, the pathogen is ‘deactivated’ so that it can no longer cause infection. However, parts of the virus can still be identified by the body’s immune system and can trigger an immune reaction.
Once the vaccine is administered, the body produces antibodies that can fight off the novel coronavirus infection.
To develop the vaccine, scientists at Bharat Biotech have used a SARS-CoV-2 strain that was isolated at the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
The vaccine trial was at caught in a controversy in June when ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava had written to the principal investigators at all 12 trial sites, saying the institute was looking at a 15 August launch date. Bharat Biotech said the trials will be conducted over 15 months.
Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical firm Zydus Cadila’s vaccine ZyCoV-D against the novel coronavirus is also undergoing human clinical trials.
The company said that its vaccine is likely to be launched by next year.
Such vaccines contain a genetically engineered plasmid — a small DNA molecule that can replicate independently. The plasmid is engineered to produce a part of the virus that can trigger a protective immunological response.
DNA-based vaccines do not need a SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, unlike the inactivated vaccines that require viruses in killed or inactivated forms. This makes developing the virus much simpler as it can be manufactured under minimal biosafety requirements.
In the absence of any infectious agent in the vaccine, it can be manufactured with ease, under minimal biosafety requirements (BSL-1).
Serum Institute of India
Pune-Based Serum Institute of India (SERI) has received the DGCI nod to start trials in India for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and Astra-Zeneca.
The ChAdOx1-S vaccine has already started phase three trials in several parts of the world including the US and Brazil.
SERI trials will end in November.
The vaccine contains a weakened and non-replicating version of a common cold virus that affects chimpanzees, which has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The spike protein of the novel coronavirus allows it to enter human cells. The presence of this protein triggers immune response in a body.
The company is tying up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to ramp up vaccine production and make it ready to be supplied to low and middle income countries at a low cost.