Indian Covid-19 vaccine could be launched in February, months earlier than expected – top scientist

An Indian-made coronavirus vaccine has proven to be safe and effective ahead of the final-stage trials and could be launched as early as February, a senior government scientist said.

Private company Bharat Biotech, which is developing the COVAXIN vaccine in cooperation with the government’s Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said earlier that it expected to roll out the vaccine sometime in the second quarter of 2021.

But Rajni Kant, senior ICMR scientist and member of its Covid-19 task force, told Reuters that the launch may actually happen much earlier as “the vaccine has shown good efficacy” during the first two stages of the trials. The final stage of the testing is scheduled to kick off later this month.

“It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available,” Kant said of the possible launch.

Bharat Biotech hasn’t yet confirmed the new deadline, but if it’s met, COVAXIN will become the first Indian-made vaccine to be released.

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The news comes as UK drug maker AstraZeneca announced it will be delaying supplies of the vaccine it is developing together with the University of Oxford. The company earlier signed multiple deals to deliver over three billion doses of the drug to various countries.

“We are a little bit late in deliveries,” Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO, said during a conference call.

The British company explained the delay by saying it was awaiting data from late-stage clinical trials, which is expected to arrive by the end of the year, in order to maximize the shelf-life of supplies.

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In late October, the government in New Delhi also gave its support to trials of Russia’s Sputnik V, which in August became the first registered coronavirus vaccine in the world.

The final stage of testing in India may conclude as early as March, Dr. Reddy’s pharmaceutical company, which is conducting the trials in cooperation with the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said earlier. In September, RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev announced that around 50 countries have expressed interest in purchasing doses of Sputnik V.

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Source:RT World News

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