Opinion Based Blog

India’s Position in the COVID Vaccine Race


Author: Susan Joshy, SYBLS LLB, Mumbai University.

Introduction
Exactly a year ago nobody might have envisioned a year long quarantine, alarming numbers of the covid cases, new channels updating the mounting deaths and new cases, thousands of job losses, losing lives and livelihoods with a desperate need for the covid vaccine. However, as things escalated, people started normalizing a lifestyle of which covid is a part. In this situation of a disordered world, the constant pressure and tension laid upon the scientists, researchers and virologists across the world to quickly come up with an efficient vaccine, there almost began an unannounced race to get the vaccine ready.

Countries that have made it to the vaccine, their efficacy and distribution

When russia first declared the competency of Sputnik V, a vaccine made by Russia’s Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology , the world inwardly declared russia as the coming superpower. The vaccine works by using a technology called mRNA or messenger RNA, thus exposing the body to the virus’ genetic code, thus preparing the body to fight off the virus, and thereafter build up the immune system, harmlessly. The vaccine has made it to the level of other advanced vaccines of the world though it stirred up a controversy in the start because of lack of transparency and hastened rollout, experts say. Its efficacy is said to be around 92%, and definitely eliminates the possibilities of death and severe conditions.
China in a quest to reach the global rank of medicine and health, rapidly and vigorously produced doses of the SinoVac which has been inoculated in nearly 50 million people in china, and has started a global distribution to almost 15 countries, like Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and other poorer nations. Trials and phases resulted in the average efficacy of the vaccine to be around 72%.
BioNTech, a German vaccine, in collaboration with the American pharma company Pfitzner was rolled out after 3 phases of trials which initially began in Germany later on countries like the USA, Brazil and Argentina volunteered too. At the start of October 2020, BioNTech and Pfizer started recruiting for a phase 3 trial in South Africa and by early November had reported promising interim results. Its efficacy is estimated to be around 95%, even in people aged above 65 , which is quite prolific. The company is said to distribute around 50 million doses in 2020 and would reach 1.3B doses by 2021. The usage of the same has been approved in the US, UK, Saudi Arabia as well as at least 19 other countries.
The UK approved the trial and distribution of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, a vaccine developed by a British pharma company allied with the Oxford university, is said to have an efficacy rate of almost 90%. Though there has been some argument regarding its effectiveness on older people and in dealing with the newer variants of the virus, the vaccine overall did a good job in eliminating hospitalization and severe conditions. The company is said to produce a total of 3B doses and distribute it in more than 15 countries.
Moderna, a US based company built the vaccine named the same, in Massachusetts, funded by the national institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has been designated on the same level of the Pfitzer vaccine. The vaccine completed three stages of trial resulting in an efficacy rated 94%. It has been distributed around countries like the EU, UK, Japan, Switzerland, and South Korea and Canada . This uses the same method of mRNA as Sputnik and BioNTech does.

Indian vaccine, its making, its rollout, distribution to the world, its efficacy

The Indian vaccine Covaxin produced by the Bharat Biotech International, was approved for emergency use by the Indian drug regulatory board (DCGI) in early January, along with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. This vaccine doesn’t use the mRNA because of the impossibility of its maintenance in India’s humid climate. The hurried approval and dosage among the front line workers and lack of transparency initially raised in rage among people, but it has shown an efficacy upto 81% in the trials conducted and India, now ships thousands of doses of the vaccine to the neighbouring countries, and western countries like Brazil, Canada and is now a vaccine powerhouse. It makes 60% of the world’s vaccines and is home to half a dozen major manufacturers.
Despite the comparative backwardness of Indian technology, India has managed to produce a vaccine which is quite effective and is expected to deliver 700 million doses of the same. Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, Huston has called India’s vaccine roll out as a “gift to the world” , which definitely is a milestone for the Indian scientists who relentlessly worked towards the success of the vaccine.


References

1. EMA starts rolling review of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, 4th March 2021, EUROPEAN MEDICINE AGENCY, EMA starts rolling review of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine | European Medicines Agency (europa.eu)
2. Rachel Schraer, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has 92% efficacy in trial, 2nd Feb 2021, BBC NEWS, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has 92% efficacy in trial – BBC News
3. Sui-Lee Wee and Ernesto Londoño, A Second Chinese Coronavirus Vaccine Is Said to Be Effective, 7th Jan 2021, THE NEWYORK TIMES, Covid Vaccine Made by Chinese Company Sinovac Is Said to Be Effective – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
4. The COVID-19 vaccine race – weekly update, 3rd March 2021, GAVI, The COVID-19 vaccine race | Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
5. The COVID-19 vaccine race – weekly update, 3rd March 2021, GAVI, The COVID-19 vaccine race | Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
6. Sarah Pitt, All your questions about the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine answered, 6th March 2021, SCROLL.IN, All your questions about the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine answered (scroll.in)
7. Kristie Pladson, The COVID-19 vaccines: Where do they come from? Where will they go?, 5th Jan 2021, DW.COM, The COVID-19 vaccines: Where do they come from? Where will they go? | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 05.01.2021
8. Covishield and Covaxin: What we know about India’s Covid-19 vaccines, 5th March 2021, BBC NEWS, Covishield and Covaxin: What we know about India’s Covid-19 vaccines – BBC News
9. Press Trust of India, Covid vaccine rollout ‘India’s gift’ to world: Top US scientist, 7th March 2021, MINT, Covid vaccine rollout ‘India’s gift’ to world: Top US scientist (livemint.com)

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