Four more Covid vaccine candidates in human trial stage, one in pre-clinical stage: Government

NEW DELHI: Four COVID-19 vaccine candidates are at different stages of human trials, while one, developed by Genique Life Sciences, is in the advanced pre-clinical stage, Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday.

In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Singh said Cadila Healthcare Ltd’s DNA-based vaccine candidate is in phase three clinical trial and it has submitted the interim data for emergency use authorisation.

Biological E Ltd’s vaccine candidate and Bharat Biotech International Ltd’s adeno intranasal vaccine candidate are in phase three clinical trials, while Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd mRNA-vaccine candidate is in phase one clinical trial, Singh said.

Gurgaon-based Genique Life Sciences Pvt Ltd’s vaccine candidate is in the advanced pre-clinical stage, he said.

Currently, three vaccines — Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russian vaccine Sputnik V — are being administered in India.

Singh said ‘Mission COVID Suraksha — the Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission’ was announced as part of the third stimulus package ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0’ for promoting research and development of Indian coronavirus vaccines.

“The mission is supporting the development of four vaccine candidates in the clinical stage of development and one vaccine candidate in advance pre-clinical stage of development.”

“The clinical development of vaccine candidates is being undertaken across the clinical trial sites situated pan-India,” he added.

In response to a separate question, Singh said India has taken up strong national and international research programs to address COVID-19 related challenges, primarily focused on basic research, diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines development in close collaboration with industries and start-up companies.

Necessary science and technology frameworks have been put in place to connect its scientific community with researchers from other countries like Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Korea, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, the UK, the US and Vietnam to find solutions against COVID-19, he said.

Apart from bilateral cooperation, India is working with Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa through the BRICS programme.

A joint call was launched covering the areas of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, re-purposing of drugs, intervention of artificial intelligence, high-performance computing for COVID-19 across multiple platforms ranging from disease surveillance to diagnosis, he said.

Singh noted that India is one of the few countries in the world which has a promising pipeline of vaccine candidates of different platforms in various stages of clinical development.

Under the Partnerships for Advancing Clinical Trials (PACT) initiative, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) partnered closely with the Ministry of External Affairs for strengthening clinical trial capacities in neighbouring countries.

Two training series have been held with over 2,400 participants across 20 sessions from 14 nations (Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Gambia, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and USA).

As a global vaccine manufacturing hub, India has made vaccines available to other nations.

Current data from the Ministry of External Affairs indicate that till date, nearly 19.86 million doses of Made-in-India COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed globally through the COVAX facility, he added.

Singh said intervention of yoga and meditation on mental health of students, healthcare workers and senior citizens during the pandemic and yoga-based rehabilitation programme for COVID-19 patients are some of the unique engagements of India in comparison to other countries in tackling the pandemic.

There has been no shortage of Covid vaccines and the government has been providing free supply of vaccines to states and union territories for inoculating prioritised beneficiaries, Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

Also, there has been no delay in placing orders with domestic vaccine manufacturers, rather advance orders of vaccines are placed with Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech for supply of COVID-19 vaccines, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply.

Responding to a question on whether many states including the hardest-hit Maharashtra were complaining about shortage of vaccines during the last three months, she said, “There has been no shortage of COVID-19 vaccines and the government of India has been providing free supply of vaccines to states and UTs for administration to prioritised beneficiaries as recommended by NEGVAC.”

Advance visibility of these allocations i.e. the total doses of vaccine that would be available to a state and union territory, are provided to them 15 days in advance so as to enable them prepare plan for acceleration of vaccination coverage while being cognizant of the available vaccines, the minister said.

She also refuted allegations of any delay in placing order of vaccines and said, “There have been no delay in placing orders with domestic vaccine manufacturers rather advance orders of vaccines are placed with Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech for supply of COVID-19 vaccines.”