K. VijayRaghavan who is the Principal Scientific Adviser to the government said at a press briefing that the testing for novel coronavirus vaccine is likely to start in India in October of this year.
“A group is working on a vaccine on a flu backbone. Preclinical studies are likely to be completed by October after which it is likely to move on to human trials,” he said, without disclosing the identity of the company or group that has been handed the responsibility.
Another vaccine group had developed a promising protein that would be ready to be tested by next February. India was looking at both indigenous as well as foreign collaborations, he added.
NITI Aayog member V.K. Paul said six promising vaccine were candidates being developed from India.
The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech announced in April that it was part of an international collaboration of virologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and U.S. vaccine company FluGen to develop ‘CoroFlu,’ a nasally administered inoculant.
When asked whether the tests of the Serum Institute-Oxford University vaccine candidate that showed the vaccine failed to check virus spread in monkeys but reduced severe disease were promising, Mr. VijayRaghavan said it was a matter of interpreting the “glass as half full or half empty”. The scale of the pandemic was such that it did not matter which company made a vaccine first, and there was enough room for promising vaccine candidates that would take a while to develop.
“It’s still early days,” he added.
Dr. Paul, who is heading an empowered group on medical equipment and management plan to tackle the outbreak, said the results of a major sero-prevalence survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 69 districts to estimate the level of infection in several districts were expected next week.