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COVAXIN may be available by February

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Bharat Biotech, which is developing a vaccine against coronavirus—‘COVAXIN’—with the help of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is hopeful of launching the vaccine as early as February. The company, which will start the third-phase trials of the vaccine in November, has earlier predicted that COVAXIN will be available only in the second quarter.

A senior government scientist has told a news agency that studies conducted so far have revealed that the vaccine is safe and effective.

“The vaccine has shown good efficacy,” senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant, who is also a member of its COVID-19 task-force, said at ICMR headquarters on Thursday. He added: “It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available.”

Kant, who is the head of ICMR’s research management, policy, planning and coordination cell, said it was up to the health ministry to decide if COVAXIN shots can be given to people even before the third-stage trials are over.

“It has shown safety and efficacy in phase 1 and 2 trials and in the animal studies – so it is safe but you can’t be 100% sure unless the phase 3 trials are over,” Kant said.

“There may be some risk, if you are ready to take the risk, you can take the vaccine. If necessary, the government can think of giving the vaccine in an emergency situation,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said that the Centre is gearing up for COVID-19 vaccination for the entire country. He had said that vaccine would be made available to all Indians.

India’s COVID-19 tally surges to 83.64 lakh

The health ministry on Thursday informed that 50,210 fresh cases of COVID-19 have been reported in India in the past 24 hours. The addition of the fresh cases has taken the COVID-19 case tally to 83.64 lakh.

So far, the biggest single-day surge of 97,894 COVID-19 cases was reported in India on September 17. The second-highest surge of 97,570 COVID-19 cases was recorded on September 12. It is followed by 96,551 cases reported on September 11.

Notably, India has already surpassed Brazil in terms of cases. It is now the second-worst hit nation due to the coronavirus pandemic after the US.

1.24 lakh deaths due to coronavirus

Also, 704 COVID-19 related deaths were reported by the ministry during this period. The addition of the fresh fatalities has taken India’s death toll due to the deadly virus to 1,24,315.

Previously, the death toll had crossed the 1,200-mark on September 16.

Similarly, the biggest surge of over 97,894 cases was reported on September 17.

77.11 lakh patients recovered

Of the 83.64 lakh coronavirus cases reported so far, over 5.27 lakh are active cases of the virus. It is above 6 per cent of the total caseload. Interestingly, 77.11 lakh cases have recovered from the viral infection so far.

 

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