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Science & Technology

Phase II/III Clinical Trials of Covishield

  • 04 Aug 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given approval to the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune to conduct Phase II/III clinical trials of Covishield in India.

  • SII is the world’s largest maker of vaccines and it has a tie-up with AstraZeneca, the Swedish-British pharma giant, to manufacture the Covid-19 vaccine for low- and middle-income countries.

Key Points

  • Covishield:
    • It is the name given to an Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine candidate which is technically referred to as AZD1222 or ChAdOx 1 nCoV-19.
    • It is already being tested in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, where participants are being administered two doses nearly a month apart.
    • It had triggered an immune response in humans against the novel coronavirus in early trials and is considered to be one of the global frontrunners for the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Background:
    • The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) for Covid-19 related therapies of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) felt that the SII needed to take a ‘pan India’ approach while considering trial sites.
    • It recommended that authorisation to market Covishield should be granted after considering clinical data generated from both the India and international trials.
  • Trials:
    • SII can now start its larger phase II/III trials, ahead of other vaccine candidates like Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D which are still in phase I/II trials.
      • However, the exact timings of trial beginning are not clear yet. It would take at least a week to get the ethics committee’s approval before starting the trials. If everything goes well, the vaccine could be out by the end of 2020.
    • The trials for Covishield will have around 1,600 participants at 18-odd sites across the country including those identified by the National Biopharma Mission and Grand Challenges India Programme.
  • Current Trend in India:
    • India continues to improve the Case Fatality Rate (CFR-number of deaths per positive case) and maintain its global position of having one of the lowest Covid-19 fatalities rates.
      • The current CFR is 2.11%.

Grand Challenges India Programm

  • It is a partnership framework for the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India, its Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
    • BIRAC is a Public Sector Enterprise, set up by the DBT.
  • Aim: To launch joint initiatives aimed at catalyzing innovative health and development research within India.

National Biopharma Mission

  • It is an industry-academia collaborative mission for accelerating biopharmaceutical development in the country.
  • It was launched in 2017 at a total cost of Rs. 1500 crore and is 50% co-funded by World Bank loan.
  • It is being implemented by the BIRAC.

Source: IE

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