A vaccine for coronavirus will enter the third phase of clinical trials in India anytime now, government's think-tank Niti Aayog said today, holding out hope for the country which has been logging the highest number of daily cases in the world since August 8. The vaccine which will be tested is the one developed by UK's Oxford University, Niti Aayog chief VK Paul told NDTV. While a worldwide race for a vaccine is on, so far, only Russia has claimed that its vaccine has passed all three stages of clinical trials and mass production has started.
At the government's briefing for the media today, the Niti Aayog chief said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured the country regarding the issue on Independence Day.
"He had said that three vaccines are being developed in India and are in different stages. One of them will enter Phase 3 trials today or tomorrow. The other two are in Phase 1 and Phase two trials," Mr Paul told the media.
The clinical trial document of the Serum Institute -- which is in charge of mass manufacturing the vaccine of Oxford University, currently dubbed "Covishield" -- shows that 1,600 subjects will be tested at 17 hospitals across the country including AIIMS Delhi and Jodhpur. The trial will take seven months.
The date of first enrollment of subjects is August 24, according to the schedule, which is with NDTV. Executives of the Serum Institute were not available for comment.
Earlier this month, Dr Balram Bhargava, the chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research, had said currently three Indian vaccines are in different phases of clinical testing.
He said a vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech and the DNA vaccine of Zydus Cadila have completed Phase 1 and will begin Phase 2 trial.
"The Oxford vaccine, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) got approval for phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, which are starting within a week at 17 sites," he had said.
In his Independence Day address to the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort, PM Modi had promised that the vaccine, once developed, will reach every Indian.
"Three vaccines are in different stages of testing. When scientists give the go-ahead, we are ready with a plan for production. How the vaccine will reach every Indian in the least amount of time - we have a roadmap ready for that," the Prime Minister had said.
With 55,079 new cases over the last 24 hours, the country's COVID-19 tally spiked to more than 27.02 lakh cases. The number of fatalities touched 51,797, with 876 fresh deaths, according to data from the Union health ministry.
The health ministry figures also showed that the number of recoveries remained higher than the number of fresh Covid infections. Over the last 24 hours, 57,937 people were declared cured, compared to the 55,079 fresh infections.