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Explained: The Covid-19 vaccines India is making, testing and supplying

At a time supplies of vaccines around the world could take a hit due to instances of vaccine and raw material nationalism, the question is whether the existing supplies will be enough to cover the requirements of India and the other countries relying on these shots going forward.

Written by Prabha Raghavan | New Delhi |
Updated: March 19, 2021 7:32:14 am

With Covid-19 cases on the rise in India once again and the nationwide immunisation drive against the SARS-CoV-2 virus aiming to cover 300 million people by August, the government has increased its demand for Covishield and Covaxin — the two vaccines currently in use here.

However, the companies making these shots are expected to supply doses to other countries as well. At least one of them has said that India’s demand has surpassed the doses it expected to earmark for the country, impacting its ability to fulfil its commitments to other countries and a global Covid-19 vaccine programme in a timely manner.

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At a time supplies of several vaccines around the world could take a hit due to instances of vaccine and raw material nationalism, the question is whether the existing supplies will be enough to cover the requirements of India and the other countries relying on these shots going forward. However, given that India has emerged a major hub for manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines, there is optimism that other vaccines in the pipeline may be able to ease this burden.

The major Covid-19 vaccines being made, tested or supplied in the country:

Sputnik V

Company: Russian Direct Investment Fund in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratory (for testing) as well as Hetero Biopharma and Gland Pharma (for manufacturing)
Platform: Non-replicating human adenovirus vector
Number of doses: 2 (each dose uses a different adenovirus)
Efficacy: 91.6%
Capacity: Up to 352 million doses per year
Status: Dr Reddy’s is completing a bridging study on 1,500 participants in India, after which it will have to submit complete data on the safety and ability of the vaccine to prompt an immune response. The company is seeking emergency use approval in the country.

ZyCov-D

Company: Zydus Cadila
Platform: DNA plasmid
Number of doses: 3
Efficacy: Not available yet
Capacity: Approximately 150 mn doses a year
Status: Currently in phase 3 trials in India

Covovax

Company: Serum Institute of India in collaboration with Novavax
Platform: Protein subunit
Number of doses: 2
Capacity: Targeting upwards of 40-50 million doses a month
Efficacy: 96.4% against the original virus strain
Status: On February 3, SII received approval to conduct a bridging study of this vaccine, which was developed by Novavax, on the Indian population. It is expected to begin this study soon.

BECOV2A, BECOV2B, BECOV2C, BECOV2D

Company: Biological E in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine
Platform: Recombinant protein vaccine containing SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain
Number of doses: 2
Capacity: Around 1 billion doses a year
Efficacy: Not available yet (phase 3 trial yet to begin)
Status: Phase 1 and 2 human trials in India completed. Depending on findings, expected to be published soon, the company will approach India’s drug regulator for permission to conduct phase 3 trials.

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BV154

Company: Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine
Platform: Non-replicating chimpanzee adenovirus (intranasal route)
Number of doses: 1
Capacity: Not available
Efficacy: Not available yet (phase 3 trial yet to begin)
Status: On February 3, Bharat Biotech received approval to conduct a phase 1 trial on 175 participants. The trial is currently open to recruitment, as per the company’s filing on the Clinical Trial Registry of India.

HGCO19

Company: Gennova Biopharmaceuticals
Platform: mRNA
Number of doses: 2
Capacity: 360 million installed per year (with parent company Emcure)
Efficacy: Not available yet (phase 3 trials yet to begin)
Status: Approval received on December 11 for phase 1 and 2 trials. Company expects to begin trial as soon as it submits additional pre-clinical testing data sought by regulator.

Janssen Ad26.CoV2.S

Company: Biological E in collaboration with Janssen Biopharmaceutica (Johnson & Johnson)
Platform: Non-replicating human adenovirus vector
Number of doses: 1
Capacity: Earlier around 600 million, but expected to go up to 1 billion a year with additional funding and support from the US and Japan following the Quad Summit this month.
Efficacy: Around 66% across all its trials
Status: Not being tested in India at the moment. It is not clear whether government plans to procure doses of this vaccine for use in India.

Covid-19 vaccines already rolled out in India

Covishield

Company: Serum Institute of India in collaboration with AstraZeneca-University of Oxford
Platform: Non-replicating chimpanzee adenovirus vector
Number of doses: 2
Efficacy: 53.28% if the second dose is given less than 6 weeks after the first dose — the regimen approved for India.
Capacity: 840 million to 1.2 bn a year
Status: Received permission on January 3 for restricted use in an emergency situation. Covishield, the Indian version of the AZD1222 vaccine from AstraZeneca-Oxford, is currently in use in India’s vaccination programme.

Covaxin

Company: Bharat Biotech
Platform: Inactivated (killed virus)
Number of doses: 2
Efficacy: 80.6%
Capacity: 150 million doses a year (planned)
Status: Received permission on March 11 for restricted use in an emergency situation. Before this, it had received restricted permission “in clinical trial mode” on January 3, allowing the government to use the vaccine in its vaccination programme.

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