As India readies for vaccine, Modi shares vaccine Mantra

India aims for a proper vaccine in the coming months, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been holding hectic parleys and doing field visits to personally monitor the progress on the vaccine front. Days after his personal visits to the three facilities where work is on, he spoke to the three teams virtually. Appreciating the efforts put in by scientists across firms he discussed threadbare the potential of various platforms for vaccine development. The PM has clearly asked pharma firms to take extra efforts to inform the public about the vaccine in simple language, especially the efficacy factor.

In the meeting which saw the presence of the likes of Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd Pune, Biological E Ltd Hyderabad and Dr. Reddys Laboratories Ltd Hyderabad, the PM discussed issues like logistics, transport, cold chainamong other aspects related to production, procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccine.

Modi has asked companies to come up with suggestions and ideas about the regulatory processes. Each one of these vaccines are at different stages of trial. Data and results are expected early next year onwards.

The PM has advised all departments to engage with manufacturers and resolve bottlenecks at the earliest.

The virtual interaction has come close on the heels of a visit to the three facilities. Fuelling further possibilities of a vaccine turning a reality soon for India, Director of AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleriawho is a member of the national task force on COVID-19 management has reiterated that there are vaccines now which are now in their final stage. Dr Guleria says that he is hopeful that a vaccine will be available by the end of month or early next month. He feels there is good data showing vaccines are safe sans any kind of compromise.

On Saturday, in a bid to personally monitor the development of COVID vaccines in record time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited top biotech companies like Zydus Cadila, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune respectively. Visiting the three biotechnology company facilities, testing different COVID-19 vaccines, the companies which have begun Phase 3 trials in thousands of volunteers will manufacture millions of doses in first half of 2021.

The PM started his tour by visiting Zydus Cadila’s manufacturing facility near Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Fully covered with a PPE kit he was seen reviewing the vaccine development process. The company commenced the Phase 2 clinical trials of its vaccine, ZyCoV-D, in August.

Zydus Cadila chairman Pankaj Patel has been quoted saying that the company was aiming at completing the trial by March 2021, and could produce up to 100 million doses a year.

“I compliment the team behind this effort for their work. Government of India is actively working with them to support them in this journey,” Modi tweeted.

Modi after this visited Bharat Biotech’s manufacturing facility in Genome Valley, Hyderabad testing ‘Covaxin’ based on an inactivated strain sourced from the Indian Council of Medical Research. In the final leg, Modi visited the facilities of the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune. Partnering with AstraZeneca and Oxford University it will apply in next two weeks for an emergency licence for Covishield vaccine.

India’s Biggest COVID Trial

In what is India’s biggest clinical trial of a vaccine to treat Coronavirus, the phase 3 clinical trials by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are on. As the biggest, the trials of Covaxin involves 26,000 participants across 22 sites in India which started on November 16. The trials have started in multiple states in India which include Delhi, Karnataka and Bengal among others.

Haryana became first to start Covaxin phase 3 trials on 20 November with state home minister Anil Vij being the first volunteer. In Delhi- the trials began at AIIMS on 26 November. Dr M V Padma Srivastava, chief of Neurosciences Centre and three other volunteers received the first dose. 15,000 volunteers got the dose in Delhi’s AIIMS.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar inaugurated the launch of Phase-3 regulatory trial of Covaxin at Kolkata’s ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (ICMR-NICED). Bengal minister Firhad Hakim became first volunteer.

In Gujarat trials started on 26 November at Ahmedabad’s Sola Civil Hospital. Its one among the 130 centres that holds trials in India. In MP’s People’s University in Bhopal the trial vaccination started on 27 November. Along with Covaxin, four other vaccines are under various phases of human clinical trial.

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