As Indian companies strive to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, experts believe that research in the country is still in its infancy and that no concrete breakthrough is likely in a year.
The Indian government and private companies have stepped up efforts to develop a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19, which killed more than 3,700 people and more than 1,25,000 cases in the country.
The PM CARES Fund Trust has decided to allocate 100 crore rupees to support efforts to develop a vaccine against coronaviruses.
Referring to a vaccine to fight the virus, a PMO statement said it was the most urgent need and Indian universities, start-ups and industry have come together to design and develop a cutting-edge vaccine .
The Department of Biotechnology has become a central coordinating agency for identifying pathways for vaccine development.
Naming Indian companies working on vaccines for COVID-19, Gagandeep Kang, executive director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad, said last month that while Zydus Cadila was working on two vaccines, Serum Institute, Biological E, Bharat Biotech, Indian Immunologicals and Mynvax are each developing a vaccine.
WHO has listed the Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, Indian Immunologicals Limited and Bharat Biotech of India among the companies involved in the development of a vaccine.
Leading virologist Shahid Jameel said India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity is quite remarkable and at least three Indian companies – Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Biologicals E are at the forefront, working with partners to make a vaccine for COVID-19.
“Research on a COVID vaccine in India is at a very early stage of development and any candidate should not reach animal testing until the end of the year,” he told the agency. press release.
However, Indian vaccine companies have a lot of capacity and expertise and are likely to play an important role in bringing new COVID-19 vaccines to the market.
This experience is important for institutions, industry and regulators to work together and prepare for the future, said Jameel, winner of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology and current CEO of Wellcome Trust / Department of Biotechnology’s India Alliance.
The director of the CSIR-Center for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB), Rakesh Mishra, said: “From what we know, we are not at an advanced stage of vaccine development at the moment.”
“There are a lot of ideas and companies that are launching a vaccine development process, but nothing is being tested in terms of vaccine candidates,” he told PTI.
There are a lot of efforts going on with different approaches like someone wants to use the whole virus or a particular protein, so there are several processes involved, he said.
“Many Indian companies are collaborating with foreign institutions. Other countries are at a much more advanced stage than we are. Some are starting third phase trials. There is no vaccine testing company in India yet and they are at the preclinical stage of preparation, “he said.
India is quite late due to a number of reasons like the coronavirus arrived in India two or three months later, “so we didn’t have the virus (inactivated) to test or even the “emergency,” said Mishra, adding that the Chinese and the United States are way ahead in vaccine development.
“If a comparison has to be made, we are far behind international efforts,” he said.
The new strain of coronavirus was isolated and characterized at the National Institute of Virology of the Indian Council for Medical Research, Pune, and the vaccine candidate was transferred to Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) to develop a fully indigenous vaccine for COVID-19.
“Once the vaccine is ready, it will be tested in animals, followed by clinical trials in humans to assess its safety and effectiveness, which will take at least a year,” said a senior official with the vaccine. CIRM at the PTI press agency.
The BBIL is working on developing a vaccine against the killed virus which generally provides good immunogenicity, said the official, adding that by entering the body, it will create antibodies against the infection.
The polio drops that are given to children contain a live attenuated virus, while the polio injection contains killed virus, said the official, explaining the different approaches used to develop a vaccine.
“The BBIL is constantly working in this direction and as soon as it gets the right formulation, it will move towards animal provocation studies followed by human clinical trials,” said the official.
Kang, in a webinar hosted by India Alliance, said that there are two distinct aspects related to COVID-19 vaccines, one is to use existing products and the second is to see if new vaccines can be made.
“In terms of vaccine development projects, more than 90 projects around the world have started to develop new vaccines that use different types of technologies. Some use old technologies like making an inactivated virus and one that allows you to respond quickly like using messenger RNA vaccines, “said Kang.
Each new technology is applied to make COVID-19 cows, he said.
Indian companies and their foreign collaborators are racing against the clock to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 with more than 52 cases of lakh and more than 3.35 lakh deaths worldwide.