The Centre is in consultations with the Russian government for exploring the possibility of cooperation between the two countries for advancing the COVID-19 vaccine in India, Parliament was told on Friday. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has informed that it has received information about one COVID-19 vaccine developed and approved in Russia, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey informed the Lok Sabha. Further, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), an autonomous organisation under the Department of Health Research, has informed that as per information available from WHO draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccine (last update on September 17), globally there are 36 candidate vaccines which are under various stages of clinical trials.
“Of this only 02 are Indian candidates (Bharat Biotech International Ltd. and Cadila Healthcare). All the 36 candidates are under various stages of clinical trials. None of the candidate vaccine so far has completed all stages of clinical trial,” he said in a written reply. In response to a question on whether the government is in talks with Russia and other countries to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses in the upcoming months, Choubey said, “The Department of Biotechnology has informed that the Government of India is in consultations with the Russian Government for exploring the possibility of cooperation with Russia for advancing COVID-19 Vaccine in India.” Further, Phase II and III bridging studies of ChAdOx1-S, a vaccine developed by University of Oxford/AstraZeneca have been initiated in India.
“While the government and Industry are trying their best to make available a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 at the earliest, it is difficult to comment on the exact timelines in view of various complex pathways involved in vaccine development,” the minister underlined. Elaborating on the steps taken by the government for timely availability of COVID-19 drugs and vaccination, Choubey informed that CDSCO has approved the manufacturing and marketing of three drugs – Remdesivir Injectable formulations, Favipiravir tablets, Itolizumab injection – for restricted emergency use in the country for treatment of coronavirus infection.
Further, the CDSCO has granted permission for conduct of phase I and II clinical trials of the two vaccine candidates indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and Cadila Healthcare Ltd. Besides, it has also given permission to the Serum Institute of India to conduct phase II and III clinical trial of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, the minister said.