Coronavirus | Oxford COVID-19 vaccine more suitable for India: CCMB Director

CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Rakesh Mishra.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Rakesh Mishra has called the successful mass testing of the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and pharmaceutical firm - AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 a "historic and dream come true” as it has been able to bring it out in a “short time"

"This is another good vaccine option done in a more traditional manner and less demanding in terms of transportation and the need for an extensive cold chain network. It is more likely to be suitable for the country as it can be stored at standard fridge temperatures and it might be cheaper to manufacture than the other two successful vaccines reported so far," said Dr. Mishra in an exclusive interaction.

The fact that an Indian firm, Serum Institute of India (SII), is involved in the manufacture of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means the availability is assured unlike the two RNA-based vaccines of United States firms - Moderna and Pfizer, which had cleared phase 3 trials and shown to be 90% safe. But, either of them does not have a production base here so far and, therefore, they need to be imported in large numbers.

"Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine efficacy is sound and protection of 70% overall is not a big problem as it keeps changing. Although it is puzzling why the regimen of ‘half a dose first followed by one full dose, is showing more than 90% protection as against ‘one full dose each twice’ in a gap of four weeks showing just 62%. Whether by mistake or otherwise, if the data holds on when larger numbers are analysed, it could turn out to be a boon. Any vaccine offering protection of 50% or more is acceptable in current circumstances," observed the director.

The heartening aspect is that all the three vaccines announced to date are "stable" and "provide good protection against coronavirus". "It is a marvellous achievement for science that safety and efficiency have been established within months but we cannot accelerate time so how long will the claimed protection lasts will be known in a few years," he said.

Two doses of a vaccine is a time-tested formula to strengthen the body's immune system. And, it could take up to six months after the vaccination starts for a semblance of return to normal life. The vaccine protection is normally expected to kick in for the individual concerned 10 days after the second booster injection, said Dr. Mishra

In an ideal situation, trials on a smaller scale are done in the country before their usage for vaccines made and approved outside, but emergency approvals are more likely if vaccine is performing excellent many different contexts, he added.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 11:33:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/oxford-covid-vaccine-more-suitable-for-india-ccmb-director/article33186886.ece

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