BENGALURU: While it is expected that the country will face a third wave by September, the chairman of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), Dr Narendra Kumar Arora, has said that India can expect at least six more vaccines to be available by then. Of the six vaccines in the pipeline is the world’s first DNA-plasmid vaccine by Zydus-Cadilla, which is made in India. The Health Ministry expects to procure 30-35 crore doses by July to enable vaccinating one crore people a day.
In a statement released to the media, from excerpts of an interview to Department of Science and Technology’s ‘Indian Science Channel’, Dr Arora, chairman of Covid-19 Working Group of the NTAGI, said, “The trials are quite encouraging. We are hopeful that they will be available by September.” Along with Zydus’s vaccine, the country is also expecting Biological E’s protein sub-unit vaccine. According to NTAGI, Biological E’s made-in-India vaccine is expected to have 90 per cent efficacy against Covid-19, and is likely to be a game-changer in the fight against the pandemic. The vaccine, called Corbevax, is similar to the Novavax vaccine, which is more than 90% effective, including against the SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Meanwhile, HGCO19, India’s first mRNA vaccine manufactured by Pune-based Genova in collaboration with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Corporation, using bits of genetic code to cause an immune response, and which can be stored in a temperature range of 2-80 Celsius, may also be available by September. The other two vaccines, are Novavax (known as Covovax in India) by Serum Institute of India and Johnson & Johnson, which are scheduled to be approved by then. Dr Arora said the production capacity of Bharat Biotech and SII will be increased phenomenally by the third week of July. “By August, we expect to procure 30-35 crore doses a month.This will enable us to vaccinate one crore persons a day,” he said.
On the efficacy of the new vaccines, he said there is very little chance of severe disease, and death after vaccination is negligible. “If the efficacy is 80%, then 20% of the vaccinated may contract mild Covid. The vaccines available in India are capable of reducing the spread of the virus. If 60-70% people are vaccinated, the spread of the virus can be checked,” he noted.
MIX AND MATCH VACCINES
Dr Arora said research may soon start on testing mix-and-match vaccines, in which doses of different vaccines can be taken instead of two doses of just one vaccine. He said although no research was done on this in India, within a few weeks such research may start as it is necessary to explore that possibility.