Serum Institute may manufacture 2-3 million Oxford vaccine doses in July

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The results of the Phase-1 clinical trial of the Oxford vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) to prevent infection by novel coronavirus are expected by the first week of July. Serum Institute of India will manufacture small quantities of the vaccine in July if the results are encouraging.

The results of the Phase-1 clinical trial of the Oxford vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) to prevent infection by novel coronavirus are expected by the first week of July. The Phase-1 trail that began in April has already been completed and follow-up is currently ongoing, the Oxford Vaccine Group announced on May 22.

Suresh Jadhav, Executive Director of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India says the company will start manufacturing small quantities of the vaccine if the Phase-1 trial results are encouraging. “We will begin manufacturing two-three million doses of the vaccine if the Phase-1 trial results, which are expected in the first week of July, are encouraging,” he says. “Millions of more doses will be manufactured once the Phase 2-3 trial is completed.”

In the fourth week of May, the Oxford Vaccine Group had begun recruiting participants for Phase 2-3 trials. Earlier, Mr. Jadhav had said that Phase-2 and Phase-3 trials may get combined if the Phase-1 trial results are encouraging. The Phase 2-3 trial is expected to be completed in two-three months. Due to reduced transmission of the virus in the UK, the vaccine is set to be tested in Brazil and South Africa too.

Mr. Jadhav said the Oxford Vaccine Group is confident that two doses of the vaccine will be protective against the virus. The participants in the Phase 2-3 trial will be randomised to receive either one or two doses of the candidate vaccine or a control vaccine (MenACWY) that protects against four strains of meningococcal bacteria.

In a trial on rhesus macaques, a single dose of the vaccine was found to be effective in preventing pneumonia but unable to prevent infection when the vaccinated animals were exposed to the virus. Explaining why the results of the trial on monkeys is not discouraging, Mr. Jadhav said: “The monkeys were exposed to very high concentration of the virus, and only a single dose of the vaccine was used for immunising the monkeys.”

In a tweet on April 30, Oxford University said the vaccine will be made available on a “not-for-profit basis for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic”.

Published in The Hindu on June 24, 2020

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