On Wednesday, Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director of Bharat Biotech International Limited, which has developed India's first COVID-19 vaccine 'Covaxin' that has been given a clinical trial nod, joined Republic TV Live and said that India is catching up in the race to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr Ella spoke about the challenges for the approval of the vaccine and its significance internationally.
The vaccine is being developed by Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV). Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) has given a green signal for conducting the human trials of Covaxin. The development comes after the Union Health Ministry gave a nod for clinical human trials of the potential vaccine after successfully testing it on animals.
Dr Krishna Ella said: "The fact that India joined the race to develop the COVID vaccine, that is important to us. We are working with three different types of technology. What has come out of the data from Chinese companies is that - pure inactivated pure live vaccine is showing extremely good results. What we are following is a similar path but it is our own intellectual property. This vaccine I see as a good prospectus. It is an old classical method, it is a method proven successful in a lot of diseases - chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, all the other viral vaccines, we use the same classical method so that it is robust and it is a reliable technology."
Speaking about the phases of the trial, he said that even though cases are rising, there is no short cut for approving the success of the vaccine, adding that the patient's safety is the foremost. "It might get delayed by two, three months, doesn't matter, but let us have the best vaccine. Something that doesn't hurt people rather protects them. Viral vaccines take 15 days for the test, it is not like pharma where you do in 30 minutes. We are all working 24 hours, day and night, to see how we can save the country. It depends on the regulatory agency how they analyse and view the data," he added.
Revealing plans of the company to begin the trials, he said that volunteers who are COVID free are needed. He made it clear that trials cannot be done on asymptomatic patients. The second point, Dr. Ella said that blood samples will be taken on the 30th day of injecting the vaccine. However, he said recruiting around a thousand people is a 'Herculean task.'
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