India and Covid-19 vaccine: How the Asian country is at world’s centre stage with all eyes on it!
India is popularly and aptly known as “pharmacy of the world”, it being largest drugs supplier globally and producer of 60% of world’s vaccines. With the Covid-19 pandemic spreading across the world like wildfire and causing mass casualties, the hunt for its vaccine has gained momentum with pharma companies and countries aligning all the efforts and expertise to develop a vaccine against coronavirus. India is at the strategic central position for the vaccine’s development, manufacturing and also, most importantly, distribution of the vaccine.
India’s Pune based Serum Institute of India has struck a deal to produce 1 billion doses of the most anticipated Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. The institute is carrying out phase 3 human clinical trials on thousands of participants currently across 15 hotspots in India. The Serum Institute has said that its confident of the Oxford vaccine being ready by December and would be ready for ready for distribution in India after getting license by March. Serum Institute has also commenced human trials on intranasal Covid-19 vaccine.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India said, “A lot of the data that I have seen off-the-record in a lot of these vaccines is very promising and more than three to four vaccines will be successful very soon in the next year.” Serum Institute is just one of the many Indian pharma companies who are in race to produce the Covid-19 vaccine, and over 200 being developed across the world.
Johnson and Johnson has also entered an agreement with India’s pharma company Biological E to produce 500 million doses of its vaccine if successful. The vaccine is also currently in phase 3 clinical trials. Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech has a deal with Washington University to manufacture 1 billion of its intranasal vaccine, which is in clinical trials. India’s pharma giant Dr. Reddy has deal to carry on phase 2 and 3 trials for Russia’s Sputnik vaccine and if successful produce 100 million doses. Apart from these there are several indigenous vaccines for Covid-19 currently in development process in India.
India, for its expertise in the pharma domain and the deals, has been put in a strategic position regarding Covid-19 vaccine development and distribution. Serum Institute’s CEO Poonawalla said that “50% of whatever quantity we manufacture will be kept for India and the remaining will go to low- and middle-income countries”.
But the major challenge India will face despite of being the largest producer of vaccines is to immune its own population. Though the country’s immunization programme for babies and pregnant women is highly effective, the rest of the population remains unaccounted for, particularly the elderly who are one of the most vulnerable group to coronavirus infection. The government is said to be laying out plans for equitable distribution of vaccine in the country.