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Trials begin for SII’s new jab Covovax, to hit market by Sept

Serum Institute of India’s (SII) new Covid-19 vaccine, Covovax, is likely to hit the Indian market by September this year.

Chief Executive of SII, which also manufactures Covishield vaccine, Adar Poonawalla said on Saturday that the company has begun the phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for Covovax and hoped to launch the vaccine by September.

“Covovax trials finally begin in India; the vaccine is made through a partnership with (US’) Novavax and Serum Institute of India… Hope to launch by September 2021!” Poonawalla tweeted on Saturday. 

Presently SII manufactured Covishield and Bharat Biotech Ltd’s Covaxin are being inoculated to the people in India under the nationwide vaccination programme launched on January 16.

The phase 2 and 3 bridging study for Covovax has begun at one of the four clinical trial sites in Pune on Thursday, and soon enrolment of participants is to start at other sites, the SII said.

On 30 January, after the announcement of the first interim efficacy data by Novavax, the CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer had said that it hopes to launch the vaccine by June.

However, earlier this month, the launch was postponed to August.

The vaccine is one of the most awaited vaccines due to the strong efficacy data from Novavax’s own trial in the UK. Covovax is Serum Institute’s version of the covid-19 vaccine developed by US-based Novavax, which had announced earlier this month that the jabs 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 strain of the coronavirus.

However, efficacy of the vaccine dropped to 86.3 per cent against the mutant variant that is now the dominant strain in the UK. On average, the efficacy of the vaccine was 89.7 per cent, the company said.

In another phase 2 trials conducted in South Africa, where a different mutant variant is dominant, the overall efficacy dropped to 48.6%.

Poonawalla had earlier said that the company will start stockpiling the vaccine from April. Serum Institute will be manufacturing 1 billion doses of the vaccine, which will be supplied to both India and Covax.

Sunday, 28 March 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

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