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Sunday, April 11, 2021

India’s first desi Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin: 5 things you need to know

Just like the rest of the world, India started its own vaccine journey since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak began early this year. Now we’re moving towards a promising stage with the country’s apex drug regulator giving nod to conduct human clinical trials. The trials will begin this month across the country.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization has allowed Bharat Biotech India to conduct the trials for Covaxin, India’s candidate in the world’s vaccine race. This is India’s first indigenous vaccine that achieved the human trial approval.

Here’s everything you need to know about Covaxin in 5 Q&A

What is Covaxin and how was it made?

Bharat Biotech India (BBIL) in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) developed an indigenous vaccine for Covid-19 cure. Among other vaccines, Covaxin is the first one to have reached the stage of human trials. In May, NIV took a sample of the virus from an asymptomatic patient and sent it to BBIL. The biotech firm then started working on developing this vaccine which is made out of a dead virus!

How does this Covid-19 vaccine work?

In a report by The Indian Express, BBIL has said that since the vaccine is developed of a dead virus, it has no capacity to replicate to spread further when injected into a human body. Rather, it develops an immune system in the body and mounts an antibody response towards the virus.

How did it get approval for human trials?

Only after having successful pre-clinical trials, Covaxin entered the human trials stage. In the pre-clinical trials the vaccine was injected into guinea pigs and mice. In this stage the vaccine achieved huge success. The BBIL then approached the country’s top drug regulator seeking permission to begin the human trials.

When will it be available to us?

The human trials will be conducted in two phases. Though it is too early to say exact time when the vaccine will be available in markets, this is surely a positive step in the right direction. With number of infections rising in major metro cities, this development is a sure confident booster for the entire nation.

In the first phase of human trials, a small group of population will be injected with Covaxin. What dosage is useful, how safe is the dosage and other such factors will be scrutinized in this stage. The second stage will follow based on the results of the previous one. Covaxin will be applied to larger sections of the population in the second stage to see how effective it is on human body. The accumulated success of all these will decide when do we get the vaccine available in markets.

How does Covaxin fare in comparison to other vaccines from rest of theĀ  world?

The world has at present 120 vaccine programmes under way. Covaxin has surely entered an advanced stage compared to two other vaccines that are being developed by BBIL in collaboration with two US universities. While they are still in their pre-clinical stage, Covaxin is ready for human trials. However, it is still quite far behind in the global vaccine race. University of Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine is the front runner here which has already entered phase III trials. The Moderna vaccine is also about to start its third phase trials. In India itself half a dozen firms are engaged in making Covid-19 vaccines.

India is home to a large number of vaccines and effective medicinal cures against polio, rotavirus, BCG, meningitis, rubella, mumps, measles among other such diseases. And according to a report by the BBC, BBIL has delivered over 4 billion vaccine doses to the globe. Among them feature the remedial cures against H1N1 and rotavirus.

So this time also, we keep our fingers crossed for the history to repeat itself.


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