Express News Service

MUMBAI: The phase-2 trials of the Oxford University vaccine for Coronavirus began in India on Wednesday with two persons being given the first shots in Pune. The second dose will be given to them after 28 days. The vaccine, developed in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is believed to be the most promising. It is in phase-3 trials in some countries.

Five Puneites had enrolled for the vaccine test. Three of them tested positive while two negatives in an antibody test. Therefore, only two — a 32-year-old male and a 48-year-old male — were chosen for the trial by the Serum Institute of India and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). If the results of the trial are successful, the vaccine will be available for general people in the next two-three months.

Indian rules require a vaccine to be tested within the country. Pune’s Serum Institute of India, which has an agreement with AstraZeneca to produce and market the vaccine, has thus initiated these trials. The phase-2 trials will take place at two more locations — KEM Hospital in Mumbai and PGI, Chandigarh.

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More hospitals would be involved in phase-3 trials, during which the vaccine’s efficacy to protect the volunteers from the disease in real-life situations, is assessed. In phase-3, the vaccine is tried on thousands of volunteers.

Since these tests are only being repeated in India, a total of 1,600 volunteers are likely to be administered the vaccine during the phase-2 and 3 trials. India currently has more than 32.43 lakh Covid-19 cases while the death figure is 67, 151. For the last 22 days, India has seen the highest number of daily cases of coronavirus in the world, WHO has reported.

In Pune, the vaccine’s first recipient is a health worker while the second is a working professional. One of them told doctors at Pune’s Bharati Vidyapeeth that he and his wife had also offered themselves for the vaccine for swine flu. The other volunteer said he came to know about the trial vaccine through social media and enrolled. 

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