Sun. Mar 7th, 2021

Delhi: Trials on for mRNA vaccine that can be stored at 2-8°CNEW DELHI: A Pune-based Indian company is conducting human trials to manufacture the country’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine that is based on the messenger RNA platform.

It is the same platform on which the vaccine developed by Pfizer, which is being administered in the United States, the UK and a few other countries, has been developed.

Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul said while the Pfizer vaccine required refrigeration at -70 degrees Celsius, they were hoping that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Gennova— the Pune-based company—would be stable at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. “There is a lot of hope,” he added.

Dr Paul was addressing a webinar organised by AIIMS, Niti Aayog and the Union health ministry on Wednesday.

The mRNA or messenger RNA is a genetic material that our cells use to make proteins. The Gennova vaccine candidate uses a synthetic form of mRNA to trick the body into making the viral proteins and trigger an immune reaction.

The vaccine development by Gennova is supported with seed grants under the Ind-CEPI mission of the department of biotechnology (DBT).

According to a release issued by the DBT on December 11, mRNA-based vaccines are scientifically the ideal choice to address a pandemic because of their rapid developmental timeline. “The mRNA vaccines are considered safe as they are non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms. They are expected to be highly efficacious because of their inherent capability of being translatable into the protein structure inside the cell cytoplasm. Additionally, mRNA vaccines do not require a host for growth, e.g., eggs or bacteria,” the DBT stated.

The safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine have already been demonstrated in animal trials and now human trials are starting, it added.

Dr Paul said India had six vaccine candidates for Covid-19 that were under different stages of trials.

These include Covishield and Covaxin, which have already received emergency use approval and are likely to be used for mass vaccination beginning January 13. Other vaccine candidates are being developed or manufactured by Dr Reddy’s lab, Zydus Cadila, Gennova and Biological E.

Dr Paul said all preparations have been done for the vaccine rollout. He added that personally he would prefer the indigenous vaccine, which is undergoing trials at AIIMS (Covaxin). “I am ready to take the vaccine in public, if needed,” he added.

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