- Biological E vaccine could be available by October: Top doctor
- Biological E's vaccine is similar to the Novavax vaccine, he said
- Novavax will be produced in India by the Serum Institute of India
Biological E's made-in-India vaccine is expected to have 90 per cent effectiveness against Covid and will likely be a gamechanger in the fight against the pandemic, says a top doctor on a government advisory panel. NK Arora, chairperson of the Centre's Covid Working Group, has said that the vaccine is entering Phase 3 trials and could be available by October.
Dr Arora said Biological E's vaccine - to be called Corbevax -- is similar to the Novavax vaccine, which is more than 90 per cent effective including against Covid variants, according to the company. Novavax will be produced in India by the Serum Institute of India, which also makes Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield.
"Novavax (of Serum Institute) is very exciting. In the past week it has created a rage because India is going to manufacture almost a billion doses a year. It is going to be simple and cheaper with a 90 per cent vaccine effectiveness," Dr Arora told NDTV.
"A very similar Indian vaccine is also under phase 3 trial, which is the Bio E vaccine. These vaccines are exciting because we have previous experience on a similar platform. They are safe across the age groups and have very high effectiveness," he said.
Bio E, in particular, may hold huge potential since the vaccine, being developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E., may be sold at an incredibly low Rs 250 for two doses.
"Bio E will be out likely in October with an efficacy matching Novavax's. In other words, 90 per cent. They are moving to stage 3 trials soon," said Dr Arora, also Chairperson of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) which guides the government on matters related to vaccination.
The others that he referred to were Zydus-Cadila's product and India's own messenger RNA-based Covid vaccine to be manufactured by Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals.
"The Indian mRNA vaccine is in phase 2. We will have it by September. It is more compatible with the Indian setting in storage, transport and shelf life."
Dr Arora said he believed there is a strong chance that the world will ultimately depend on India for affordable and effective vaccines against COVID-19.
Heaping praise on the Indian pharmaceutical industry, naming those such as Pune-based Serum Institute and Ahemdabad-based Cadilla Pharma, he expressed excitement about some of their products which could potentially change the dynamics of the battle against the pandemic.
"This may sound presumptuous. Ultimately the world will be dependent on us for vaccines. It is very premature, very presumptuous," Dr Arora told NDTV, his assertion predicated on India's own requirements being fulfilled first.
"I'm aware that everybody is looking forward to India. Because most of the poor countries and low-income countries have no source. Today it is easier to buy weapons than to buy vaccines," he said.
India is recovering from a deadly second wave of the pandemic that saw a huge surge in the number of deaths and hospitalisations, accompanied by an acute shortage of resources, including vaccines. So much so that countries like the US have come to India's aid on this front.