Coronavirus vaccine: Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate demonstrates 70% efficacy but when will India get the vaccine?

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The interim data was collected from 131 patients of COVID-19.Coronavirus vaccine in India: As more and more vaccines against coronavirus are showing positive results, the latest one to join the club is the candidate developed by Oxford and Birtish-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca. On Monday, AstraZeneca announced that its vaccine candidate demonstrated 70.4% efficacy in the interim data collected from the Phase 3 trials. This indicates that the vaccine is providing to the participants a high level of protection against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, according to a report in IE.

However, most of the Indian citizens have been questioning when the vaccine would be made available to them.

The answer comes from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), which has been testing and manufacturing the vaccine in India as per an agreement with AstraZeneca. SII Founder Dr Cyrus Poonawalla said that it would be available in India very soon, the report stated. He said that the manufacturer would be asking for a “special emergency marketing authorisation” in the next one and half months.

Results from Oxford-AstraZeneca

While announcing the results, the team, comprising students from Oxford University and researchers from AstraZeneca, said that there were three notable points. The candidate, called AZD1222 was found to be effective in two different dosing regimens, with one showing better results than the other. The second notable achievement was that AZD1222 was meeting the primary efficacy criteria to provide protection against the virus. Lastly, the candidates who had been administered the vaccine did not report any cases of either hospitalisation or severe infection due to COVID-19.

In a statement, the pharma giant said that the meeting of criteria by the candidate was determined by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board, and they found that the vaccine was protecting the participants against COVID-19 occurring 14 days or more after being administered two doses. Apart from that, there were no confirmed reports of a serious safety issue from the vaccine candidate.

The interim data was collected from 131 patients of COVID-19. The trials included two regimens of dosing, in one of which, the vaccine was administered first in a half dose, and it was followed by a full dose administered at least a month apart. This regime saw 90% efficacy. In the second regime, the researchers administered two full doses of the vaccine at least a month apart and this demonstrated 62% efficacy, the report added.

The company added that a combined analysis from the two regimens brought the average efficacy rate to about 70%, and all the results were statistically significant. The pharma giant said that it would now accumulate further data and analyse it to refine the efficacy reading.

In this data, the Phase 2/3 trials being conducted in the United States and the Phase 3 trials being carried out in Brazil have been taken into account, with more than 23,000 participants being studied.

Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine in India

The report quoted Poonawalla as saying that the institute has so far manufactured as many as four crore doses of the vaccine candidate and he asserted that within the next one and a half to two months, they would be able to bring this number up to 10 crore doses.

In India, the vaccine candidate has been named Covishield. The SII, which is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world in terms of doses has tied up with Oxford-AstraZeneca to carry out its trials in India.

To ensure that the vaccine is administered in the country, the vaccine would need to be approved by the regulator in India for emergency authorisation, after which it would be given to the citizens on a priority basis, with frontline healthcare workers receiving the dosage first.

The report further stated that scientists at the SII are hoping to roll out the vaccine before the year ends if the government grants them the approval.

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