Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that India will have its first coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year 2020. He said that a Covid-19 vaccine is likely in the next 4-5 months. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that one of the three Covid-19 vaccine candidates has entered the third phase of the pre-clinical human trial.
"One of our COVID-19 vaccine candidates is in the third phase of the clinical trial. We are very confident that a vaccine will be developed by end of this year," Dr Harsh Vardhan said while inaugurating an NDRF 10-bedded makeshift hospital in Ghaziabad.
He further said: "I am happy to say that in the eighth month of the battle, India has the best recovery rate of 75 per cent. A total of 2.2 million patients have recovered and gone home and another seven lakh are going to be cured very soon."
"We started with only one testing laboratory in Pune but we scaled up our diagnostic capabilities and strengthened our testing capacity. Today, India has 1500 testing labs for COVID-19 and on Friday we tested over one million samples," the minister added.
"I hope that if everything goes well, India will have access to a coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020," the minister tweeted later.
According to V.K. Paul, head of the national task force on COVID-19, the vaccine candidate entering the third phase has yielded encouraging results in the initial phases of its trial. Paul said that the other two vaccines are currently in Phase-I or II of their pre-clinical trials.
However, they did not reveal the names of the vaccines while sharing the status of their testing phase.
While the officials did not reveal the names of the vaccine candidates while speaking about their testing phase, it could be gathered that the vaccine entering the third phase is Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, jointly developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
India currently has three vaccine candidates for Covid-19 -- ChAdOx1, developed by Oxford University and manufactured jointly by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, and AstraZeneca; Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, jointly developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research; and the third is ZycovD by Zydus Cadila.
The SII had earlier said of starting the Phase 2 trial of its Covid-19 vaccine this week. It added that it has shortlisted 10 centres across India to host Phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials. Meanwhile, Zydus Cadila administered the second dose of its Covid-19 vaccine a few days ago.
The developments on the vaccine came a day after the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration met five domestic vaccine manufacturers to review the clinical trial stages of these candidates. The manufacturers included two whose products are not yet in the clinical trial stage in India.
Zydus Cadila had stated in the review meeting that it may be able to launch the vaccine by next year. According to the Health Ministry, the country recorded 69,878 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 29,75,701 on Saturday morning. During this period, 945 people lost their lives due to Covid-19 infection, taking the death toll to 55,794.