India developer says homegrown COVID-19 vaccine is 81 per cent effective

Ruben Hill
March 4, 2021

Bharat Biotech in a statement said that Covaxin vaccine was 81 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 after a third round of clinical trials.

"Today is an important milestone in vaccine discovery, for science and our fight against coronavirus", Dr. Krishna Ella said in a statement.

Covaxin has been administered to hundreds of Indian citizens already including to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took the first shot on Monday marking the beginning of the second phase of vacciantions in the country for elderly citizens above 60 years of age and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities. It is based on an established manufacturing platform with a better safety profile when compared to other vaccine platforms, the release said.

The first interim analysis is based on 43 cases, of which 36 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 7 cases observed in the COVAXIN group, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 80.6 per cent, Bharat Biotech said.

In the case of Covid-19 vaccines, pharma companies have primarily focussed on bringing down the number of symptomatic cases even if youre infected with SARS-CoV-2, you may not present with the symptoms and fall as sick as you would have without the vaccine.

Opposition lawmaker Shashi Tharoor welcomed the announcement by Bharat Biotech, which plans to make 700 million doses a year. India's soon to be launched Zydus Cadila vaccine also uses the same technology. But Bharat Biotech's chairman said this interim data "demonstrates high clinical efficacy".

The firm said it would share further interim analysis after 87 cases, with a final analysis planned for 130 cases.

The data from the second and final studies would also be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, it added.

But only 1.2 million, or about 11 percent, of them, have taken the locally developed COVAXIN, while the remaining 9.4 million have used the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, according to the government's Co-Win online platform used to track the vaccination drive.

Congress leaders including Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh raised concerns about the "premature" approval of Covaxin for restricted emergency use. "The need of the hour is to ensure that people in India continue to receive the vaccine and break the chain of virus transmission", said Dr Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable disease, ICMR, and director, National AIDS Research Institute.

"The fact is that Covid-19 poses a significant threat to both health and economy globally and it is only by avoiding nationalistic policies and embracing global co-operation that countries across the world can beat the pandemic".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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