Covid-19 vaccine by early 2021: Scientist

A vaccine for the coronavirus will likely be ready by early 2021 but rolling it out safely across India’s 1.3 billion people will be the country’s biggest challenge in fighting its surging epidemic, a leading vaccine scientist told Bloomberg.

According to Gagandeep Kang, professor of microbiology at the Vellore-based Christian Medical College and a member of the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, India, which is host to some of the front-runner vaccine clinical trials, currently has no local infrastructure in place to go beyond immunizing babies and pregnant women.

The phase-III human clinical trial of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University, and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), began at the state-run Sassoon General Hospital in Pune on Monday. “We have started the phase-III trials of the vaccine (candidate Covishield). We will administer dose to 150 to 200 volunteers,” PTI quoted Dr Muralidhar Tambe, Dean, Sassoon General Hospital, as saying.

With 86,961 new cases, the infection tally in India gas risen to 54.87 lakh. As many as 1130 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours pushing the toll in the country to 86,961. Of the 54,87,581 infections in the country, 10,03,299 are active cases, while 43,96,399 patients have already been cured.

India is hosting clinical trials for all the major vaccine contenders. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is conducting trials for the vaccine developed by Oxford University. The drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories said last week it will distribute the Russian vaccine in India after conducting final-stage human trials and receiving regulatory approval.

Globally, over 30.8 million have been infected, of which, nearly 21 million have recovered so far. At least 958,400 people have succumbed to the virus so far. While casualties in the US approached 200,000, China has found coronavirus particles on the packaging of frozen squid tentacles from Russia.