India Coronavirus Dispatch: Vaccine candidates in development in India

A medic administers the first dose of Covishield vaccine to a frontline worker in India
Vaccine candidates currently in development in India

The following candidates are in various stages of trials to assess safety and efficacy in India, according to a report in the BBC. This is apart from Serum Institute's Covaxin and Bharat Biotech's Covishield, which have already received emergency approval.

1) ZyCov-Di, being developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus-Cadila

2) In partnership with US-based Dynavax and Baylor College of Medicine, Hyderabad-based Biological E, the first Indian private vaccine company, is developing a vaccine

3) In partnership with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Company, HGCO19, India's first mRNA vaccine developed by Pune-based Genova, uses bits of genetic code to induce an immune response

4) A nasal vaccine by Bharat BioTech

5) The Sputnik V vaccine candidate being developed by Dr Reddy's Lab and Gamaleya National Centre in Russia

6) A second vaccine being developed by SII and American vaccine maker Novavax 

Read more here

Experts explain how vaccines were developed at unprecedented timelines

Shahid Jameel, one of India's best-known virologists, and Virander Singh Chauhan, former director of Delhi-based International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) explain how vaccines for Covid-19 were developed at unprecedented timelines in this report for The Indian Express.

There are several reasons why the vaccines were developed quickly, the report said. The sharing of scientific information, the similarity of the novel coronavirus to the SARS-CoV-1 and MERS viruses on which considerable work had already been done helped. Pharmaceutical firms were able to develop the vaccines without having to absorb all the financial risk thanks to large investments by government and innovative financial models. Clinical testing and reviewing of data in parallel were allowed by regulators. Read more here

Delhi vaccination centres to test for antibodies before and after shots

A few vaccination centres in New Delhi will begin carrying out antibody tests before and after the shots are administered, according to a report in ThePrint.

The research will be conducted after hospitals or vaccination centres get the necessary approvals from their respective ethical committees. Vaccination centres or hospitals receiving Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, which was greenlighted even before it completed Phase 3 of its clinical trials, are particularly in favour of this move, the report said. Read more here

 
A spot on the priority list is long-overdue validation for ASHA workers

For all the women employed as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA workers), a spot on the Covid-19 priority list felt like a long-overdue validation, a report in Aljazeera said.

In the past year, as millions of migrants went home after urban jobs disappeared into lockdown, ASHA workers worked frantically on the rural front line to rein in an ever-worsening pandemic. The women were charged with documenting village arrivals, quarantining the newcomers, providing guidance on Covid-19, while keeping up with their traditional duties of caring for newborns and mothers. So it was only appropriate to expand the cover to ASHA workers when the government introduced its plans to safeguard the health front line-doctors, nurses, hospital cooks and cleaners. Read more here

Emerging variants of coronavirus may pose challenges for vaccines

Two small new studies suggest that some coronavirus variants, even in those who have been vaccinated, may pose unexpected challenges to the immune system, a development that most scientists had not expected to see for months, even years, according to a report in Forbes. 

On the theory that the coronavirus would be slow to evolve new defences, scientists had hoped that the new vaccines would stay successful for years. Some researchers now fear that the uncontrolled spread has provided the virus almost unrestricted opportunities to reinvent itself and that the emergence of escape mutations may have accelerated. Read more here


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