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India may soon have another locally developed vaccine as deadly Covid crisis shows no signs of slowing down

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A child walks past a mural depicting healthcare workers wearing face masks along a road in New Delhi, India, March 21, 2021.

Sajjad Hussain | UKTN | Getty Images

India could soon have its second coronavirus vaccine developed nationally, although a deadly second wave shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Pharmaceutical maker Cadila Healthcare, also known as Zydus Cadila, is conducting phase three clinical trials involving 28,000 people, including people over 75 years of age and children aged 12 to 18, for its vaccine candidate at UKTN base.

“We have completed major recruiting for our phase three (trial),” CEO Sharvil Patel told UKTN’s “Street Signs Asia” Thursday.

He said the company expects efficacy data from the phase three trial to be released next month, after which it would seek authorization for emergency use from India’s drug regulator at mid-May.

“On the safety and efficacy of our phase two (trials) as well as the ongoing phase three, we have seen very good safety data and strong immunogenicity data, comparable to most other vaccines. who are there, ”Patel said.

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Vaccination campaign

India began its vaccination campaign in January and on Thursday government data showed more than 150 million doses had been administered. But only about 25.8 million second doses were given.

Currently India is using the AstraZeneca vaccine, known locally as Covishield and produced by the Serum Institute of India and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech.

New Delhi also recently approved Russia-developed Sputnik V and authorized foreign-made vaccines which have received emergency approval from the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Japan and listed agencies. by the World Health Organization.

Patel told UKTN that the Zydus candidate uses technology that allows him to quickly modify the vaccine for mutated variants of the virus. The drugmaker has a new facility that it plans to use to ramp up production once it receives regulatory approval.

“As a first step, we will start by producing 10 million doses per month and as soon as in the next four to five months we will be looking at how to double the capacity to 20 million doses per month,” Patel said.

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1 in 3 new cases in India

So far, in April alone, India has reported more than 6.2 million cases and more than 42,000 officially counted deaths – reports suggest the death toll may be underestimated.

The World Health Organization, in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic, said last week India accounted for 1 in 3 reported cases worldwide. In its analysis, the WHO said India had 157.4 new cases and 1.1 new deaths per 100,000 people.

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Data from India’s Ministry of Health on Thursday showed there were 379,257 new cases. The death toll has climbed this month and the latest official figure shows that at least 3,645 more have died in 24 hours.

Experts fear that a mutated variant of the coronavirus is responsible for the dramatic surge in cases. The WHO said in its weekly update that reports suggest that there are several variants of the virus circulating in India.

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The international community has pledged resources to help India cope with its second wave. The United States is sending more than $ 100 million worth of supplies “in the coming days” to alleviate some of the strain on India’s extensive health care system.

According to a White House statement on Wednesday, the United States will provide India with oxygen concentrators, oxygen generating units, personal protective equipment, vaccine manufacturing supplies, rapid diagnostic tests and therapeutic products as well as public health assistance.

Meanwhile, economists are revising their forecasts for India’s economic recovery in light of the second wave.

Rating agency S&P Global Ratings said the outbreak posed downside risks to GDP and increased the possibility of trade disruptions. A prolonged outbreak “may prompt us to revise our baseline 11% growth assumption in fiscal year 2021/2022, especially if the government is forced to reimpose general containment measures,” S&P said.

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