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Coronavirus vaccine likely to be ready for India by early 2021, says scientist

Coronavirus vaccine likely to be ready for India by early 2021, says scientist

A vaccine for the coronavirus will likely be ready by early 2021 but rolling it out safely across India’s 1.3 billion people will be the country’s biggest challenge in fighting its surging epidemic, a leading vaccine scientist told Bloomberg.
India, which is host to some of the front-runner vaccine clinical trials, currently has no local infrastructure in place to go beyond immunizing babies and pregnant women, said Gagandeep Kang, professor of microbiology at the Vellore-based Christian Medical College and a member of the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety.
The timing of the vaccine is a contentious subject around the world. In the U.S., President Donald Trump has contradicted a top administration health expert by saying a vaccine would be available by October. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had promised an indigenous vaccine as early as mid-August, a claim the government and its apex medical research body has since walked back.
For a country of its size, and with a virus curve that shows no sign of flattening, a safe and quick vaccine is a top priority for the Modi administration.
The country’s broken health-care system, already struggling to deliver adequate care before the outbreak, cannot cope with the strain of a prolonged pandemic.
A strict lockdown implemented in late March led to the biggest contraction among major economies with gross domestic product shrinking 23.9% in the three months to June from a year earlier.
“By year-end we will have data that will tell us which vaccines are working and which ones are not going to do so well," said Kang, who until July was heading the Indian government committee looking into prospective indigenous vaccine candidates.
“If we get good results by year-end then we are looking at vaccines being potentially available in tiny numbers in first half of 2021 and larger numbers in the latter part."
Kang said that any vaccine currently in phase three trials, whether locally made or being tested by major western pharmaceutical companies, had a 50% chance of success.
India is hosting clinical trials for all the major vaccine contenders. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is conducting trials for the vaccine developed by Oxford University. The drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories said last week it will distribute the Russian vaccine in India after conducting final-stage human trials and receiving regulatory approval.

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