New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: More than 150 Covid-19 vaccines are presently in development, with around 44 candidates in clinical trials and 11 undergoing late-stage testing, according to the World Health Organisation.

The COVID-19 vaccine candidates of US-based drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna, with their promising final results from the late-stage trial, have raised the hopes of many nations which are struggling to fight the pandemic, including the two worst-hit countries - United States and India.

Pfizer, after claiming that its vaccine candidate BNT162b2 was found to be 95 per cent effective in final results from the late-stage trial, is seeking emergency approval from the authorities.

However, vaccines like Pfizer may not be ideal for India, owing to the logistical hurdles due to the super-cold storage requirement. India, hence, is in talks with various companies to manufacture and procure vaccines for its 1.3 billion people.

Here are the major vaccine candidates which India is pinning its hopes on:

Oxford-AstraZeneca

The Serum Institute of India has entered into a partnership with AstraZeneca to produce and supply 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla, in an interview on Thursday, said that the vaccine will be priced at Rs 500-600 and will be available to the general public in the next three-four months.

Earlier, Poonawalla said the Pune-based firm might get emergency-use authorization by December if late-stage trial data showed that the vaccine candidate provided effective protection from the virus. That initial amount will go to India, Poonawalla said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Poonawalla also said preliminary results have shown that there were no immediate concerns pertaining to the Covishield vaccine. Serum has so far made 40 million doses of the Oxford vaccine in the past two months and aims to start manufacturing Novavax’s contender soon.

According to ICMR, the COVID-19 vaccine candidate, locally called Covishield, is the most advanced vaccine in human testing in India with Phase 3 trials nearing completion.

The Oxford vaccine is based on a harmless, weakened version of a common cold virus, or adenovirus, that causes infections in chimpazees.

Pfizer and Moderna

The candidates of US-based drugmakers Pfiozer-BioNTech and Moderna are said to the global forerunners in the run-up to the first successful vaccine. While Pfizer said its shot was 95 per cent effective in late-stage trials, Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine was fond to be 94.5 per cent effective.

However, experts have said that these two vaccines might not be the ideal choice for India owing to their requirement of deep-freeze storage. But the Moderna vaccine would be a better option as it can be stored at -20 degree Celsius in commercial deep freezers. Pfizer’s vaccine, on the other hand, requires storage at -70 degree Celsius or below.

Moreover, Pfizer and Moderna are two-dose vaccines, which means India would need nearly 3 billion doses for its entire population. The government has said that it is closely monitoring progress and is in talks with all the firms.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both developed with new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), represent powerful tools to fight a pandemic that has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million.

Covaxin

Developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Covaxin was found to be safe without any major adverse events in the first two stages of the trials involving about 1,000 people. They company has claimed that more than 90 per cent of the volunteers developed antibodies against the virus.

The vaccine has now entered Phase III which will involve nearly 26,000 volunteers across India. It is the largest clinical trial conducted for a Covid-19 vaccine in India. While volunteers in the age-group of 12-65 years were involved in the second phase of the clinical human trials of Covaxin, only adult volunteers (above the age of 18 years) will be involved in the third phase of the trials.

Covaxin has been developed in collaboration with the ICMR - National Institute of Virology (NIV) using inactivated Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus was isolated in an ICMR lab.

Sputnik V

India has inked a deal with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute for its Sputnik V vaccine, which Russian authorities claim to be 92 per cent effective. At Tuesday’s BRICS Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Sputnik V could be produced in India.

The vaccine candidate will be tested by Dr Reddy’s on around 1,500 participants in a Phase 2/3 clinical trial across at least 10 sites.

The vaccine will be available in two forms - liquid, which would have to be stored at minus 18 degrees Celsius and lyophilised (freeze dried), which can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius.

Vector's vaccine, dubbed "EpiVacCorona", relies on chemically synthesized peptide antigens of SARS-CoV-2 proteins, conjugated to a carrier protein and adsorbed on an aluminum-containing adjuvant, according to details posted at ClinicalTrials.gov, a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.

Unlike Western countries, Russia has given official approval to its COVID-19 vaccines without waiting for the results of large-scale trials in thousands of patients, which are normally required to prove that a drug is safe and effective. That decision has been criticised by scientists in other countries.

Novavax

Novavax, with which India has reserved a billion doses, is still in Phase 3 human trials in the UK with 10,000 volunteers. A larger Phase 3 trial is set to begin in the US this month. If tests are successful, its vaccine may be commercially available in the second half of 2021.

In September, Novavax and the Serum Institute of India entered into an agreement to make up to 2 billion doses a year.

Zydus Cadila

In July, the Indian vaccine-maker Zydus Cadila began testing a DNA-based vaccine called ZyCov-D, delivered by a skin patch. They launched a Phase 2 trial on August 6 and are planning a Phase 3 trial in December.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta