India : At a time when Covid-19 cases are escalating globally and more so in India, there is some sigh of relief and Organised Medicine academic Guild (OMAG) welcomes the initial success of Coronavirus vaccine, seen as a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Yesterday the initial results of the phases 1 and 2 of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial was announced, which found the vaccine to be safe, well-tolerated, and immunogenic. Although the results of phase-3 clinical trial will be very important to decide its safety, effectiveness and roll-out for public health use, the initial results of this study give hope to prevent COVID-19 worldwide. 1077 people who were coronavirus negative and between 18-55 years of age took part in this study phases 1 and 2 (combined to cut-short time-lag). OMAG requests Indian Government to play a proactive role and will provided expedited clearances required for Phase III trials in India.
It is important to note that India-based Serum Institute of India has already entered into a strategic partnership with those conducting the above-mentioned study (Oxford University and AstraZeneca) to manufacture and supply one billion doses of this vaccine. This is a big, yet deliverable assurance for global health as India is already the biggest pharmacy to the world manufacturing and supplying medicines globally. India is also the biggest manufacturer and supplier of over 60% different kinds of vaccines worldwide. It is vital to ensure that manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine remains in countries like India so that the world can have access to cheap and affordable prevention against the dreaded coronavirus, without delay as also it can ensure equitable distribution.
Earlier, Bill Gates of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, had committed to invest in seven most promising vaccine candidates under research to help contain COVID-19. OMAG is all appreciative of this life-saving innovative strategy to start manufacturing large volumes irrespective of outcome of the trials. This means if only one or two of these seven succeeds, the remaining vaccine doses will have to be dumped, in a well-calculated risk than waiting for large-scale availability of doses awaiting production process.
While phase-3 clinical trials go ahead for this vaccine and other candidate products to prevent COVID-19, it is high time that the governments at all level strengthen health systems to ensure the scientific breakthroughs translate into public health gains without any further delay. Whenever a safe and effective vaccine becomes available for public health use, we need to have stronger health systems and other regulatory mechanisms already in place to be able to deliver it to the most marginalized people worldwide without any delay.