Covid-19 Vaccine Trials in India
The government has also urged researchers and innovators to come up with any new testing kit or reagent that can help combat the coronavirus contagion and decided to encourage vaccine trials to develop any vaccine – an immune booster or a preventive one – to arrest infections caused by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
India has decided to support vaccine trials on an express basis to bolster the global effort to find a cure for Covid-19. The government has also urged researchers and innovators to come up with any new testing kit or reagent that can help combat the coronavirus contagion and decided to encourage vaccine trials to develop any vaccine – an immune booster or a preventive one – to arrest infections caused by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
Serum Institute’s recombinant BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Gurein) vaccine would be the first vaccine candidate in India to start human trials within the weeks. This is to test if the vaccine, administered at birth to Indians to fight tuberculosis, can also boost immunity in adults against the novel coronavirus. If all goes well, the vaccine, which has a proven safety track record, can be in the market by the end of this year. Serum Institute can make 300-400 million doses of this vaccine.
Now this 100-year-old vaccine (developed in 1919) is being tested to check if it is able to increase the immunity to fight against another respiratory illness, the Covid-19.
Serum Institute of India working on a recombinant BCG vaccine, which is supposed to be better than the existing BCG vaccine. This is an extremely safe vaccine, since it is given to new-born babies, and has been selling this in more than 100 countries worldwide for more than two decades. The trial for this, to prove the immunity is being improved in human beings, will start within two weeks in India. And then we will know for sure whether it's working.Serum is likely to start the trials in Maharashtra involving 2,000-3,000 high-risk people. The elderly and people with co-morbidities (like diabetes, asthma, hypertension) will be administered the recombinant BCG vaccine. Health care workers, too, would be given a BCG shot. One of the companies’ representatives said - "There is a demand for this vaccine, and we can make 300-400 million doses of this vaccine. But, until the trials are over, we are not officially prescribing it."
The other vaccine candidates in the country being developed by around six pharma companies are yet to reach a human trial phase as most are in the animal trial stage.
Health care experts revealed some recent studies have shown that countries that did not have an universal BCG vaccination policy have seen higher incidences of the Covid-19 cases. US and Italy, for example, do not administer BCG as part of their universal vaccination policy.
BCG, now a part of the National Immunisation Programme, has been administered to Indians over decades. The efficiency rate of the vaccine is around 60 per cent and the results also vary between countries.