Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine may not be needed, says Harsh Vardhan

24 Nov 2020

India already has at least five vaccine candidates against Covid-19 under human trial, of which three vaccine candidates are undergoing advanced phase 2/3 clinical trials

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has reiterated that India may not require Pfizer’s vaccine against coronavirus disease (Covid-19), with other vaccine candidates being tested in the country showing promising results in safety trials so far.

According to media reports, the health minister said that it did not make sense to consider the Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine as even the US regulatory authority had not yet granted approval to the vaccine. And even if the approvals are granted, the manufacturer would first attempt to cater to its local population before supplying the vaccine to other countries, he said.

India has at least five vaccine candidates against Covid-19 under human trial, of which three vaccine candidates are undergoing advanced phase 2/3 clinical trials to establish safety and efficacy.

The Serum Institute of India is conducting the phase 3 trial with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate.

The Bharat Biotech-ICMR vaccine candidate, Covaxin, has also progressed, and phase 3 trial has started. The results of its phase 2 trials are expected anytime now.

Cadila Health’s vaccine candidate, ZyCovD, has also completed the phase 2 trial, and is awaiting results, even as the follow up period is nearing its end.

Apart from these three, phase 2/3 trials for the Sputnik V Russian vaccine, for which India’s Dr Reddy’s labs has tied up with the Russian vaccine developers, is going to start anytime this week.

Hyderabad-based Biological E’s vaccine candidate also has early phase 1/2 trials in the pipeline.

The government is in talks with developers and manufacturers of all potential Covid-19 vaccine candidates for procurement of their product. According to the health minister, the government will start the immunisation process in a phased manner. In the first phase it is looking at vaccinating 250-300 million people by July of next year, for which it aims to procure around 500 million vaccine doses as most vaccines follow a two-dose regimen.

“As for following up on the progress made on vaccine research, the government is continuously in talks with the parties involved. However, the actual procurement process will begin the day any of these vaccines gets regulatory approvals. So far, none of these vaccines has secured emergency use authorization (EUA) so there is no question yet of vaccine procurement,” Union health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, told HT.

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