Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the world's largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, today said trials in India have started for Covovax - the coronavirus vaccine being developed in partnership with American vaccine developer Novavax.
Mr Poonawalla, who had earlier hoped to launch Covovax by June, this afternoon tweeted that it is likely to be launched by September. The Covid jab - found to be 89.3 per cent effective in a UK trial - has been tested against African and UK variants, believed to be much more infections.
"Covovax trials finally begin in India; the vaccine is made through a partnership with @Novavax and @SerumInstIndi. It has been tested against African and UK variants of #COVID19 and has an overall efficacy of 89%. Hope to launch by September 2021 (sic)!", he wrote in a tweet.
Covovax trials finally begin in India; the vaccine is made through a partnership with @Novavax and @SerumInstIndia. It has been tested against African and UK variants of #COVID19 and has an overall efficacy of 89%. Hope to launch by September 2021! https://t.co/GyV6AQZWdV— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) March 27, 2021
Covovax is the SII's second coronavirus vaccine for which trials have started in the country after India's drug regulator - the DCGI - cleared Covishield that has been developed in partnership with the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca.
Covishield has also been exported to other countries as India supports other governments in the fight against pandemic.
India began the world's largest vaccine drive on January 16 when priority was given to health workers and frontline workers. The public rollout for the vaccine - for those above 60 and above 45 with serious illness - started on March 1. From April 1, all people above 45 can get themselves vaccinated.
India has witnessed an alarming spike in fresh cases reported over the last two weeks. This morning, the Health Ministry data showed a spike of 62,258 infections in the last 24 hours taking the country's tally to 1.19 crore cases.
More than 1.62 lakh people have died so far because of Covid. Maharashtra, the worst-hit state by the pandemic, on Friday posted a new high of 36,902 fresh infections.
The centre, earlier this week, said a new "double mutant" of the virus, first detected in Maharashtra, has spread to 18 states.