05:00 GMT02 December 2020
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    Virtually all vaccines being developed to treat Coronavirus require cold facilities for storage and transportation before they reach those needing immunisation. India’s federal government has already begun an exercise to map out facilities for their quick delivery throughout the country, before the vaccines are ready.

    A group of scientists in India has developed a vaccine which can withstand the hot climatic conditions of the country.

    The team involves scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru in collaboration with the IISc-incubated startup Mynvax, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, and the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) in Faridabad, under the federal Department of Biotechnology. 

    Led by Professor Raghavan Varadarajan, a biophysicist, the team has already completed animal trials and they are waiting for funding to carry out process development, safety and toxicity tests before proceeding with clinical trials. 

    “We already have reached out to several agencies, including the government, for funding, but are still waiting for it,” said Professor Varadarajan.  He said process development and clinical trials need to be carried out, preferably by the manufacturer or a Contract Research Organisation (CRO) under GMP Conditions (Good Manufacturing Practices).

    “In whatever studies we have done in the lab, the molecule was found to be stable for quite long periods of time. We kept it for over a month at 37 degree Celsius and we have other variants also. Therefore, a cold chain may not be required (for storage and transportation),” Professor Varadarajan told Sputnik.

    For some COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials, while it is possible that they may be also stable for significant periods at 37 degree Celsius, this information is at least not publicly available and all clinical trials have been carried out with refrigerated material. 

    According to Professor Varadarajan, the next phases require substantial investment and IISc and Mynvax were seeking funding, either from the government or a prospective manufacturer.

    Their study has already been accepted for publication by the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

    Globally, over 150 vaccine candidates are under development and some of them have already entered rapidly into clinical phase of testing. In India alone, there are eight candidates at various stages of trials, out of which three were in advanced stages of trials.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that all people in the country would be vaccinated once the vaccine was available. In an interview to an English newspaper on 29 October, Modi said more than 28,000 refrigerated points would be used to store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to ensure it reached every last person.

    As on Friday, India had a caseload of 520,773 active cases, while the recovery rate was 92.32 percent (7,765,966). According to the federal Health Ministry, 124,985 people have succumbed to the viral infection. 



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