The rising number of Coronavirus cases has dominated the headlines in India for the last few months. This news might serve as a ray of hope for panic-stricken citizens of the country - India’s 'first' indigenous COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN has received a nod for human clinical trials from the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI).
According to the statistics released by the Union Health Ministry, India registered 18,522 new Covid-19 cases in a single day, taking the country’s count to 5,66,840. The death toll also went up to 16,893, with 418 new fatalities. Currently, the active number of cases is 2,15,125, while 3,34,821 people have recovered, with India standing fourth in the world in the number of Coronavirus cases.
With the COVAXIN vaccine, things might look up for the country. Developed by Bharat Biotech, this vaccine has been made in collaboration with the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV). It has been developed at Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3 (Biosafety Level 3) high containment facility at Genome Valley, Hyderabad.
“The SARS-CoV-2 strain was isolated in NIV, Pune, and transferred to Bharat Biotech. The indigenous, inactivated vaccine was developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech's BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) High Containment facility located in Genome Valley, Hyderabad," Bharat Biotech has stated.
According to media reports, the pre-clinical trials for the vaccine passed all tests related to safety and immune response, post which it has received approval for human clinical trials next month.
“COVAXIN has been expedited through national regulatory protocols, and subjected to "comprehensive pre-clinical studies" according to the company. The results are "promising" and "show extensive safety and effective immune responses,” the company added.
It was in May 2020 that Bharat Biotech entered into a partnership with Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, to develop a new vaccine candidate for COVID-19, that was invented at Jefferson. Reports suggest that the vaccine was made using an existing deactivated rabies vaccine as a vehicle for Coronavirus proteins.
There are several other companies that have received a nod for human clinical trials across the world, but none has been approved for commercial distribution. Apart from Bharat Biotech, there are five other Indian companies working towards developing a COVID-19 vaccine.
(Edited by Athira Nair)