SII Commences ‘Covovax’ Trials In India

Expected Launch By September, 2021

Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume and the biggest Covid-19 vaccine maker, is looking to launch the ‘Covovax’ vaccine – developed in partnership with American vaccine developer Novavax, by September 2021, announced CEO Adar Poonawalla, on 27th March, 2021. Adar added that the Covid-19 vaccine – Covovax, has been tested against the African and UK variants of Covid-19 and showed an overall efficacy of 89%.

“Covovax trials finally begin in India; the vaccine is made through a partnership with @Novavax and @SerumInstIndia. It has been tested against African and UK variants of #COVID19 and has an overall efficacy of 89%. Hope to launch by September 2021,” he tweeted.

Pune-based SII’s phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, bridging study of 1,600 participants for the Covovax vaccine, has started at one of the trial sites in Pune, with at least one more site expected to begin screening. The trials started at a hospital in Pune on 25th March as per news sources, with more enrolments expected soon.

Adar Poonawalla earlier stated that the US-based pharma firm’s Covid jab against the novel coronavirus had published ‘excellent efficacy results’. Covovax is SII’s version of the coronavirus vaccine developed by US-based Novavax, which earlier in March, had announced that the doses have an efficacy of 96%, against the original strain, determined in a Phase 3 trial conducted in the UK. This is the highest efficacy so far achieved for a Covid-19 vaccine against the original variant of Covid-19. However, the efficacy of the vaccine dropped to 86.3% against the mutant strain that has been dominant in Britain. On average, the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine was 89.7%. Meanwhile, in another phase 2 trial conducted in South Africa, where another mutant variant is dominant, the overall efficacy dropped to 48.6%.

While the efficacy is lower against the mutant strains, the vaccine has shown better results as compared to the jab co-developed by AstraZeneca plc and the University of Oxford. SII also contract manufactures the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine under the brand Covishield, which is the most-widely available jab in India as well as World Health Organization-led Covax.

India had begun the world’s largest vaccination campaign with SII’s Covishield and Hyderabad-based pharma firm Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Covishield has been developed in partnership with the Oxford University and British-Swedish firm – AstraZeneca.

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