With thousands of deaths, thousands more suffering, and more than half of 2020 sacrificed due to the coronavirus, the search for a vaccine for the same is the top priority. In a joint partnership with Bharat Biotech, Indian Council for Medical Research (IMCR) has been working on developing a vaccine for the virus. As it has gone through several phases of animal testing, ending in successful results, human trials have commenced as of July 2020. Of the 12 medical facilities that have been chosen for the same, a few have been selected to fast track the phases of human trials so as to achieve faster results.
With the target audience for the trials being healthy individuals between the ages of 22 and 50, as is the case with clinical trials globally, the aim of the same is to introduce the virus in an ‘inactivated’ state such that there is no replication or infection. With a total of 375 individuals participating in these trials, IMCR has targeted to launch Covaxin by August 15. There are usually three phases of trials, The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has so far approved phases I and II. The completion of this is expected to take place over the span of one year and three months for the first two phases alone. Hence completing this process in a month and a half has brought many to question if it is even possible.
India has naturally not been the only place looking to come up with a vaccine to COVID-19. As of July 6, there are 19 vaccine candidates globally that are currently in clinical evaluation. These include companies in the UK, China, and even South Africa. The vaccine contender from Oxford is one of the first to undergo clinical trials. However, this vaccine is said to have another 6 months before its launch. Currently in its third phase of human trials, the Oxford COVID vaccine is targeting a total of 8000 people in the UK. With this vaccine contender at a further stage than Covaxin, but its launch so much further away, the vaccine from IMCR is not only being questioned for its success, but also for its achievability.
In our pursuit to curb a virus as deadly as the coronavirus, we must not forget that patience and efficiency is key to make sure that no more lives are lost, especially due to carelessness. With high hopes, the Covaxin vaccine is said to be ready by the 15th of August, but as of now, one can only wait.