Health

India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine shows 81 percent interim efficacy

New Delhi, Mar 3 (efe-epa).- India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, branded Covaxin, has shown an interim efficacy of nearly 81 percent in its late-stage clinical trials, its developer Bharat Biotech said on Wednesday.

The company said the first interim analysis was based on 43 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the trial of 25,800 participants between 18-98 years of age.

The participants included 2,433 over the age of 60 and 4,500 with comorbidities.

Of the 43 cases, 36 were observed in the placebo group versus seven observed in the Covaxin group, “resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 80.6 percent,” Bharat Biotech said.

The government had approved the vaccine in January even as the late-stage efficacy was still not ready, triggering controversy over its effectiveness.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the first dose of Covaxin earlier this week.

India had already included Covaxin and another jab developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca in its ambitious vaccination drive, currently in its second phase.

The country has so far inoculated more than 15 million health and front-line workers since the immunization drive began in mid-January.

It now plans to vaccinate people above 60 years and those 45 or more with medical conditions.

The country, which has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 infections after the United States, plans to inoculate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people before August.

The ambitious plan means inoculating nearly two million people a day until the end of July.

In a bid to speed up the drive, the government on Wednesday extended the vaccination schedule 24 hours a day amid a surge of new Covid-19 infections in some states.

“The government has removed time constraint to increase the speed of vaccination. People can get vaccinated 24X7 at their convenience,” Federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted.

The federal health ministry has instructed all private hospitals to utilize 100 percent capacities and effectively function as vaccination centers.

The ministry said it had urged regional governments to collaborate with private hospitals to ensure that “optimum capacities for vaccination are fully utilized.”

Indian on Wednesday registered nearly 15,000 new cases of Covid-19 and 98 deaths, raising the total number of infections to 11.1 million and 157,346 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The health ministry data said five states continued to report a surge in the daily new cases. Together, they account for nearly 86 percent of the new cases reported since Tuesday. EFE-EPA

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