As covid-19 cases in India ballooned to 9,11,427, two indigenous Indian vaccine candidates against covid-19 will enter human trials this month with over 1000 volunteers to be enrolled for the process on a fast-track basis, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Tuesday.
“Two indigenous Indian vaccine candidates have undergone successful toxicity studies in rats, mice and rabbits and the toxicity data has been shared with Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). They have got clearance to start human trials early this month,” Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General, ICMR said.
The companies namely are Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII). “Approximately 1,000 human volunteers are participating in clinical trials for each of the two indigenous vaccine candidates and pre-clinical experiments for these as well as other vaccines are also being done at National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune,” Bhargava said.
The government said that 60% of the vaccines supplied in the world are of Indian origin and India is perceived and is an important player in the vaccine supply for the world. “Any covid-19 vaccine produced or developed in any part of the world will ultimately have to be scaled up either by India or by China. Every country which is developing vaccine is in communication with India since they are aware India is a major producer, said Bhargava.
The government said that Russia and China have fast-tracked the vaccine development process, USA and UK too are trying to fast-track the development programme. “Efforts are being taken to ensure that not a single day is wasted for regulatory or approval purpose, without compromising on the science, quality and ethics part of it,” Bhargava added.
Meanwhile, the country has vaccine for covid-19, union health ministry said it has started a consultative exercise to gather information from treating doctors, on complications being faced by patients who have recovered from covid-19, based on which, some guidelines may also be issued in the future. Number of people in India who have recovered from covid-19 is around 1.8 times the number of active cases. In many states, the number of daily discharges from hospitals is more than that of daily admissions.
The covid-19 cases are unequal in distribution in India. “86% of total active covid-19 cases are confined to just 10 states, while 50% of active cases are in two states, which shows that spread of covid-19 is not happening uniformly across the country,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Officer-on-Special Duty (OSD), union health ministry.
As testing is critical in containing the spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) has come out with a document underlining need for comprehensive surveillance and testing of suspect covid-19 cases stating that testing 140 people per day per 10 lakhs would be indicative of ‘comprehensive’.
“22 states are doing more than 140 covid-19 tests per day per million. Centre is asking states and UTs to increase testing so that we proceed towards the guidelines given by WHO. There were 101 covid-19 RT-PCR testing labs in mid-March, whereas today there are 1,206 RT-PCR testing labs and 280 Rapid Antigen Test centres,” said Bhushan.
The government has also conducted a sero survey to find presence of coronavirus among population in containment zones. The ICMR said that presently, stratification of data collected for the sero-survey at Delhi and its analysis is being done. 22,800 blood samples were collected for this particular sero-survey till 5th July, 2020, ICMR said. The union health ministry said that the national covid-19 fatality rate is 2.6% and it is coming down. “Deaths per million population in India too is amongst the lowest in the world, while in some countries it is 35 times higher. Despite being the second most populous country of the world, the daily growth rate of new covid-19 cases in India has been coming down continuously,” Bhushan.
“Since the last two weeks, AIIMS doctors has been engaging two days every week with ICU doctors of treating hospitals to resolve problems faced in saving critically ill patients,” he said.
The government also said that the people in home isolation are monitored by paramedical workers and volunteers who are given the responsibility to check these people on a daily basis and then they submit a report based on set parameters based on which a decision is taken about continuation of home isolation or shifting patients to a COVID-Care facility. Dedicated home-health care agencies may also make telephone calls and check upon the patients in home-isolation on the basis of a similar check-list,” Bhushan said.