- The vaccination drive alone would checkmate the virulent spread of the virus is becoming amply clear going by the experiences of many developed countries who were considerably battered by the successive Covid waves. It is also noticed that the efficacy of the vaccine candidates worldwide is proving to be a boon in curtailing the severity of the infection spread to a great extent. Few advanced countries had foreseen how crucial administering of vaccine would eventually turn out by ensuring adequate stock to inoculate their population in greater numbers. Not to be left behind, the Indian Government also took several decisive steps in ensuring the citizens are presented with an opportunity to develop a protective shield from the menace.
- As we are all aware, the Indian pharmaceutical majors like Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech came out with two vaccines viz. Covishield and Covaxin, respectively. Both these indigenous vaccines were granted Emergency User Approval (EUA) to commence the inoculation drive. Though the SII’s Covishield is in the forefront covering almost 90% of the vaccination carried out so far, the BB’s Covaxin is yet to scale up the production to meet the humongous demand confronting the nation. Note that Covaxin is yet to secure World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing. Seen in the backdrop of China’s second vaccine Sinovac, after Sinopharm, getting global approval, we are lagging in showcasing our vaccine prowess by a distance.
- Covaxin’s absence from the list of WHO-approved vaccines means millions of Indians who have got this shot may not be eligible for global travel since most countries go by the list of WHO-approved vaccines. It is a matter of concern that the vaccine developer with a solid track record like BB has not published Covaxin’s interim efficacy data even after a lapse of three months. Delay in publishing the third phase data is not helping the nation’s cause. The Government of India is left with no option but to push BB to obtain the WHO green signal without any further delay. Understand that Covaxin has an even more critical role to play in the country in the foreseeable future and hence, it is incumbent on the part of the vaccine developer to up the ante.
- People in the know would have noticed how BB reacted when questions over its production and capacity forced the company to argue there is a 4-month lag between initiation and supply, and that June will see substantially more doses of Covaxin. Having shouldered most of the vaccine drive so far, the SII has contractual agreements with other nations to honor in the coming months. As such, this proportion needs to change substantially over the next few months with BB stepping in proactively to fill the anticipated gap. Of course, all the official talk of Covaxin being produced by other companies, including some pharma PSUs must see some real action. Let us see why it is so crucial for Covaxin to be produced by more companies.
- There are three significant reasons which could be deliberated here. First and foremost, demanding cold chain requirements mean none of the foreign vaccines can be even considered administering to people in small towns and villages. The second reason is the possible mixing of both the vaccines and a study to be undertaken for efficacy transparently. The third reason which is extremely significant is the planned Covaxin trials on 2-18 years old to protect children from a feared third wave leading to the safe reopening of schools. Most importantly, BB is also undertaking a trial of intranasal vaccine which could be a possible gamechanger. In a nutshell, a lot is riding on BB and hence, it is expected to ramp up the production scale from now on.