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The interim Phase 3 trial results of the indigenously developed Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, establishes an efficacy of 81% and significant immunogenicity against virus variants. This is good news. The published data will definitely help allay concerns about the vaccine, and further increase the pace of vaccination in the country. The publication of the trial data will open export opportunities given the paucity of vaccine supplies compared to the need across the world.
In late February, even before the publication of the data, Brazil signed a deal for purchasing 20 million doses of Covaxin. The efficacy rate and, more importantly, the capacity to provide significant level of immunity from variant strains could mean that not just Brazil but other countries that are battling variant strains of the virus such as South Africa could consider Covaxin as an option. France too is reported to be in the process of purchasing the Bharat Biotech vaccine. Other EU nations could follow. The success of the Bharat Biotech venture should encourage other indigenous vaccine developers to redouble their efforts. The global vaccine requirement is far from being fulfilled. India has been at the forefront of the effort to ensure that countries around the world are able to vaccinate their people, sending large batches of vaccine out as grant assistance and exports to countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Middle East, in the neighbourhood as well as the UN peacekeeping force. India now needs to ramp up its manufacturing capabilities to ensure it can meet its domestic requirement and play its part as responsible member of the global community.
Covaxin should inspire many Indian pharma and biotech companies to keep pushing the boundaries.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.