Amid the scramble to produce a vaccine against the deadly COVID-19, Tamil Nadu's Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and Sri Ramachandra Hospital, here, will join the Oxford University in conducting human clinical trials of 'Covishield' on nearly 300 health volunteers aged 18 and above.
This will be part of the multi-centric clinical trial in India, according to state health minister Dr C Vijaya Bhaskar. This vaccine, developed in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is considered the most promising to be successful and is undergoing phase-3 trials in some other countries.
The Phase-2 trials of the Oxford University vaccine for novel Coronavirus began in India on Wednesday, with the first doses administered to some volunteers at Pune's Bharti Vidyapeeth medical college and hospital. Pune's Serum Institute of India, which has an agreement with AstraZeneca to produce and market this vaccine in India and many other countries, has initiated human trials.
Both phase-2 and phase-3 trials would take place in India. Phase-1, during which the vaccines safety is assessed, is not mandatory to be repeated in India.
Stating that chief minister K Palaniswami has issued orders for the trial, state health minister Dr C Vijaya Bhaskar told reporters here today that it would commence soon. The Director of public health (Dr T S Selvavinayagam) will be the principal investigator for the project, he said.
Studies have shown that the vaccine triggered a T-cell response within 14 days of vaccination, and an antibody response within 28 days. T-cells are white blood cells that can attack Coronavirus infected cells, whereas antibodies are protein molecules that are able to neutralise the virus so that it cannot infect cells when initially contracted.
"After the successful phase two and three clinical trials, the vaccine would be brought to public use. This pro-people initiative of the chief minister will strengthen Mr Palaniswami's efforts in containing the Coronavirus," Dr Vijaya Bhaskar said.
The minister asserted that the RGGGH has been doing yeoman service in treating COVID-19 patients. It has conducted 1,91,000 swab tests till date and launched the SMS services for communicating COVID-19 results.
The SMS service which provides results to the patients within 24 hours would be extended to other centres across Tamil Nadu. Also, the 'zero delay ward' in the RGGGH has helped treat about 12,500 COVID-19 patients.
The hospital has performed plasma therapy successfully on 174 people, he said and added that about 18,000 Coronavirus patients have been treated at RGGGH.