Until Vaccine is Developed

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IN a disappointing development on the vaccine front, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has put on hold the randomised clinical trial of its vaccine that it was developing in collaboration with the University of Oxford after a volunteer developed “an unexplained illness”. The researchers will now go back to drawing board to examine the necessary safety aspects of the trial. The vaccine has been touted as the front runner in the race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

So far, Russia is the only country that has developed the vaccine. According to The Lancet, the Russian vaccine, called Sputnik V, generated a strong immune response and didn’t produce serious adverse reactions in the 76 volunteers who were inoculated in a trial. This has to a large extent put to rest the scepticism about its efficacy. Russia is now in talks with India over the phase 3 trials of the vaccine and its manufacturing. A Niti Aayog member said that India is “working in partnership with this vaccine candidate for manufacture, trials and regulatory facilitation”.

Work is also ongoing on India’s own vaccine, Covaxin, being developed by Hyderabad based company Bharat Biotech. The progress so far been encouraging. Phase 1 trial has already been completed and phase 2 trial is likely to be concluded by October. So, there is a hope that if all goes well, the vaccine will hit the market by early 2021.

Meanwhile the coronavirus pandemic is spreading through India like wild fire. Over 95,000 cases have been reported sick in the country in last 24 hours. This has taken the caseload tally to above 44 lakh. The total number of fatalities have risen to over 75,000. However, one silver lining is that over 33 lakh people have recovered pushing the recovery rate to 77.74 percent. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are witnessing the most infections.

India has already become the No 2 country most affected by the pandemic after the US. At the current rate of infections, it is set to overtake the US in near future. At the same time while daily caseload in India is among the highest in the world, it remains the lowest given the size of its population. Worldwide, the Covid-19 has infected over 2.6 crore people and killed 870,000.

One reason for the exponential spread of the contagion in India and also in Kashmir is the badly implemented lockdown and the indifference being exhibited by the people towards safety precautions. Though it seems too late to reverse the tide, but the government can still make a redeeming difference by getting people to obey the rules. And which is something that doesn’t seem to be happening as aggressively as it should.

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