Serum Institute’s Adar Poonawalla hopes to launch 2nd Covid vaccine by September

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Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla, on Saturday, said his company hopes to launch the second vaccine against Covid-19 by September this year. The trials of this second vaccine, Covovax, made by Serum and US vaccine development company Novavax have already begun in India this week.

Covovax has been tested against the African and the UK variants of Covid-19 and has an overall efficacy of 89%, Poonawalla tweeted.

Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker by the number of doses it produces, is supplying its first vaccine Covishield, developed in collaboration with Oxford University and Astrazeneca, to India and several other countries. With the vaccination drive going on at full throttle amid no threat of scarcity of vaccines in India, the company is moving to its second vaccine project. The trials have commenced at a Pune hospital on Thursday.

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Delhi’s Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research will also be a part of the trial, which will take place at 19 sites across the country, covering 1,140 participants.

What might keep Covovax ahead in building adequate immunity against Covid-19 is the factor that it has been tested against the variant strains of the virus.

According to reports, in the phase 3 trial conducted in the UK, Covovax showed an efficacy of 96 per cent against the original strain. But against the UK variant, its efficacy percentage is 86.3 while in a phase two trial conducted in South Africa, its overall efficacy dropped to 48.6 per cent.

In January, Adar Poonawalla’s company sought permission from the Drugs Controller General of India to start clinical trials of the second vaccine.

India has so far administered 5.8 crore vaccine doses, which include both Covishield and Covaxin. From April 1, anyone above the age of 45 years will be considered eligible for vaccines. The Centre has said both the vaccines are safe after many European countries suspended the administration of the Oxford vaccine citing risks of blood clotting.

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