Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trials to begin in India: Coronavirus vaccines in final phase of testing

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has triggered an international effort to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, perhaps at breakneck speed. Several experimental vaccines have shown promising results in early trials, rising hopes that one will exist before the end of the year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 26 vaccines are in clinical evaluation with six of them in late-stage, phase 3 trials.

As of July 31, WHO’s draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccines shows that some 139 candidate vaccines are in preclinical evaluation. Worldwide, at least 685,780 people have now lost their lives to the deadly virus, whereas as many as 17,896,220 cases have been confirmed in 196 countries and territories. As coronavirus continues to spread, researchers are working around the clock using different methods to find a safe jab against COVID-19. A number of large-scale studies are underway to assess the safety and efficacy of some of the most advanced vaccine candidates, including the Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna mRNA vaccine, and Pfizer-BioNTech candidate, etc. Meanwhile, reports claimed that Russia is preparing a mass vaccination against CVOID-19 for October. However, the country is yet to release scientific data on its vaccine trials.

Serum Institute gets nod for Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given a go-ahead to the Serum Institute of India (SII) to conduct phase 2/3 clinical trials of the vaccine developed by the Oxford University in India after a thorough evaluation and based on the recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC). ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which is being manufactured by SII in India under technical collaboration with Oxford University/Astra Zeneca, is called as Covishield. Last week, news agency ANI reported that the vaccine maker had sought the drug regulator’s permission for conducting phase 2/3 trials in India.

Oxford researchers have found that there were no safety concerns, and the vaccine produced strong immune responses in early human trials. The vaccine is currently undergoing phase 2/3 trials in the UK, phase 3 trials in Brazil, and phase 1/2 trials in South Africa. Should the vaccine prove effective in phase 3 trials, AstraZeneca said it has the capacity to produce 2 billion doses of the jab.

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