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Indian Pharma Firm Develops Vaccine in Capsule Form, Doctors Hopeful of Faster Distribution

© REUTERS / ANUSHREE FADNAVISA boy walks past a graffiti amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on a street in New Delhi, India, March 22, 2021
A boy walks past a graffiti amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on a street in New Delhi, India, March 22, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.03.2021
The human trials of the new vaccine in capsule form are likely to be conducted by the end of June. Another vaccine by Bharat Biotech in conjuction with the University of Wisconsin is being made in a nasal form and is already undergoing clinical trials.

Getting vaccinated against the coronavirus could soon be as easy as popping a pill. Health experts and doctors in India are hopeful of a faster, more effective distribution of COVID vaccines after an Indian pharmaceutical company begins trials on a vaccine in capsule form. 

The Indian firm Premas Biotech has collaborated with the Jerusalem-headquartered company Oramed Pharmaceuticals to develop an oral COVID-19 vaccine. On 19 March, the company announced that the oral vaccine "has shown efficacy after a single dose".

Announcing the development, Premas Biotech in a media communication released on the online platform Businesswire India said that "a single dose of the Oravax COVID-19 capsule has been found effective and its efficacy has been proven in a pilot study on animals".

"Oravax's oral vaccine promoted both systemic immunity by producing neutralising antibodies (IgG) as well as (IgA) immune response, which protects the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts against infection", said the company. 

"We are very excited about our oral vaccine candidate's potential to help end the pandemic", said Nadav Kidron, the Chief Executive Officer of Oramed, in a media statement. 

"An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, widescale distribution. While ease of administration is critical today to accelerate inoculation rates, an oral vaccine could become even more valuable in the likely case that a COVID-19 vaccine may be required annually or biannually like the standard flu shot", it stated.

While animal trials are already in progress, human trials could begin by June, it added.  

Meanwhile, the development has stirred hope and excitement among the medical fraternity and other stakeholders.

Dr Sanjeev Sinha, Professor of Medicine at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, told Sputnik, "Definitely an oral vaccine in the form of a capsule will help because there will be no control on temperature that will be required".

"We need to keep the vaccines in a fridge as they require certain temperatures", he added. 

Suggesting that oral vaccines can be administered under direct observation of doctors as is done for tuberculosis medicines in the country, Dr Sinha added, "the government can easily transport these in the periphery region, no nursing support will be required and even basic health workers will be able to administer it".

"There will be fewer side effects and will be easy to administer. Right now people have to wait for half an hour at the hospital facility to ensure there are no side effects after the injection", he added.  

Terming the development of an oral vaccine a "great innovation" Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited - Asia's leading Biopharmaceuticals enterprise, took to Twitter to heap praise on the endeavour.

​India's coronavirus caseload has now surged to 11,734,058 with 47,262 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, the federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said Wednesday morning.

Total deaths due to the infection in the country now stand at 160,441.

At present, there are 368,457 active cases in the country, with the recovery rate dropping to 95.67 percent, according to the ministry's data. Achieving a landmark milestone, India has administered more than 50 million COVID-19 jabs so far.

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