• Kushal Kumar Jha

SII: Even at the lowest efficacy of 60-70%, Oxford's COVID-19 Vaccine a viable option

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The Serum Institute of India (SII) on Thursday said that even at the lowest efficacy of 60-70 percent, the AstraZeneca-Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine candidate is still a viable option for India. The SII has partnered with the Oxford University and AstraZeneca for the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine candidate. “Even though the lowest efficacy results are at 60-70%, it is a viable vaccine against the virus. That said, varied age groups with different dosage forms will result in slight variations and efficacy. We must be patient and not panic,” SII said in a statement. However, these efficacy results are based on the trials being conducted in the United Kingdom (UK) and Brazil. The results of the Indian trials being conducted by the SII are expected to come out in December. According to the partial results announced on Monday from the ongoing trials in the UK and Brazil, the vaccine showed a striking difference in efficacy, depending on the amount delivered. A regimen of two full doses given a month apart was 62 percent effective while participants who received half a dose of the vaccine in the first round and then the full dose a month later were found to be 90 percent less likely to develop COVID-19. The average efficacy was pegged around 70 percent. But on Wednesday, according to reports, AstraZeneca admitted in a statement that the half dose was an error since some of the vials did not have the right vaccine concentration. In its statement, SII said there were no concerns about the trial in India. “The Indian trials are running smoothly with strict adherence to all the necessary processes and protocols. So far, there are no concerns. However, we are going through the data that is available and will make a further statement, if needed,” the statement read. Phase III trials of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine candidate are underway across 17 sites in the country and data on the Indian trials being conducted by SII should be out in December. While scientists and experts say a vaccine with efficacy of 60 per cent and above is good, they have, however, raised concerns over the company’s communication strategy. On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Serum Institute of India “to understand the process of vaccine production and distribution”. Officials said the PM would reach around 1 PM and depart around 2.30 PM on the same day. The PM's visit will also be followed by a visit by the Ambassadors and High Commissioners from around 100 countries, based in Delhi, the Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said.

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