Photo: Pexels
Photo: Pexels

As the race to create viable vaccines nears its final leg, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday afternoon visited the Zydus Biotech Park to take note of the work done by drug firm Zydus Cadila. Modi visited the company's manufacturing facility near Ahmedabad, as he began his three-city visit to review ongoing coronavirus vaccine development work. The other two points of his trip were the Serum Institute in Pune and Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad.

"Visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad to know more about the indigenous DNA based vaccine being developed by Zydus Cadila. I compliment the team behind this effort for their work. Government of India is actively working with them to support them in this journey," Prime Minister Modi tweeted after his trip.

What is ZyCOV-D?

The term has been trending on Twitter since the Prime Minister's visit and is the name of the Zydus vaccine candidate.

What has been the revelations thus far?

According to the press notes available from July and August 2020 on the Zydus website, the vaccine candidate had had a successful phase one trial. "ZyCoV-D was found to be safe and well tolerated in the Phase I clinical trial. The company will now commence Phase II clinical trials from the 6th of August, 2020," it had written at the beginning of August.

"With ZyCoV-D, the Company has successfully established the DNA vaccine platform in the country using non-replicating and non-integrating plasmid carrying the gene of interest making it very safe," the press note added.

According to the revelations from the preclinical stage, the vaccine was found to be immunogenic in multiple animal species and the antibodies produced in animal studies are able to completely neutralize the wild type virus. Preclinical toxicity studies had found the vaccine to be well tolerated, safe and immunogenic.

When will it be available?

In August, Zydus Cadila had announced that the phase-I clinical trial of its vaccine candidate ZyCoV-D is over and that it had commenced phase-II clinical trials.

According to a Moneycontrol report from the beginning of November, that quotes an analyst call, Cadila Healthcare (Zydus Cadila) has completed the enrolment and dosing of 1,000 volunteers in phase-2 clinical trials and plans to submit the data to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) this month. Reportedly, the company MD had said that based upon the response from the regulators, the company will plan a larger phase-3 trial in December. According to the company's chairman, Pankaj Patel, they are aiming to complete the vaccine trial by March 2021, and could produce up to 100 million doses a year.

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