New Delhi: A safe and effective vaccine is the best way to control and finally end the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. With more than 200 candidates being developed across the world, vaccine development is moving at unprecedented speed. Joining the global race to create a safe vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Indian researchers will soon start testing the country’s first indigenous coronavirus vaccine candidate, COVAXIN, on 1,100 people in two phases – phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. Developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Indian Council Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV), the experimental inactivated vaccine is derived from a strain of SARS-COV-2 virus isolated by ICMR-NIV, Pune. COVAXIN has demonstrated safety and immune response in preclinical studies.
The world urgently needs a COVID-19 vaccine, which will help prevent and reduce the risk of infection, as well as resultant complications. However, there’s also a growing momentum of skeptics raising doubts about future vaccine programmes against other infectious diseases – with safety being a major concern. As COVID-19 continues to spread, pathways of vaccine development are changing in ways as researchers race against time to create a safe jab by shortening process time from the usual 15- to 20-year timeline to one that might be as short as one year. Perhaps, the ICMR’s 40-day target to launch Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine by August 15 has caused alarm among scientists and some in the medical fraternity. While the research body has clarified that the date was ‘not a deadline’, several experts have warned against any hasty solution that may compromise standards of scientific rigour.