Developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, in association with Indian Council for Medical Research, ICMR, COVAXIN is an inactivated vaccine, created from a strain of the infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus, that has shown promise in preclinical studies, demonstrating extensive safety and effective immune responses.
India, a leading manufacturer of vaccines and generic medicines, is expected to play a key role in this race, with several institutes working on different drugs.
In May the government said as many as 30 groups were working on a vaccine. A top scientific advisor to the government said efforts that normally took 15 years and cost US$300 million were being condensed into a 12-month period.
Similar efforts are being mounted across the world, with a number of different drugs in different stages of trial. Last week the World Health Organisation said AstraZeneca’s vaccine was probably the leading candidate.
The British firm has already begun large-scale, mid-stage human trials of the drug developed by researchers at University of Oxford.
Other possible vaccines being tested include one by American firm Moderna, which is scheduled to go into Phase III clinical trials from mid-July.
China’s military has been given permission to use a vaccine candidate developed in association with CanSino Biologics. The drug showed some promise in early clinical trials. The Ad5-nCoV is one of the eight vaccine candidates developed by Chinese firms to move into human trials.