In a significant development, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday (January 2) formally approved Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech vaccines for restricted emergency use against COVID-19 in India. It is expected that the vaccination drive would now soon begin in the country. The dry run of vaccines was conducted in all states and union territories on January 2.

Here is all you need to know about Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin:

Developers and manufacturers

Covishield has been developed by Oxford University in collaboration with Astrazeneca. Pune-based Serum Institute of India is their manufacturing and trial partner.

Covaxin is developed by Bharat Biotech and it is India’s first indigenous vaccine against Covid-19. Bharat Biotech has developed this vaccine in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology.

How these two vaccines have been developed

The DCGI said in a press statement that Covishield uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus. The DCGI press release said that this virus causes onfections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein.

On the other hand, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine which is developed by inactivating (killing) the live microorganisims that cause the disease. This destroys the ability of the pathogen to replicate, but keeps it intact so that the immune system can still recognise it and produce an immune response. 

Trial and efficacy

The DCGI said in its press release that Serum Institute submitted data of phase 1 clinical trial conducted over 23,745 overseas participants showing an overall result of 70.42 efficacy. “In phase two and three, which were conducted in India, 1,600 participants took part and the results were comparable to that of the first phase of trial,” the DCGI said.

Bharat Biotech conducted phase one and two trials on 800 participants and it also conducted several animal trials. Its third trial is going on and a total of 22,500 participants took part in it. According to DCGI, Covaxin has been found effective and safe.

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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday (Janaury 2) announced that frontline workers across the vaccine will get the coronavirus vaccine free of cost.

Earlier, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that Covishield will cost around Rs 400. It is expected that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin would cost less than Rs 100. But there is no final word on cost yet.

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