India raced ahead with work on its coronavirus vaccine while Britain’s AstraZeneca said its deliveries were running “a little bit late” as countries around the world sought to conquer the pandemic and rescue their economies.
A vaccine is seen as the world’s best bet for taming a virus that has infected more than 48 million people, led to more than 1.2 million deaths, roiled economies and disrupted billions of lives since it was first identified in China in December.
Australia is beefing up its prospective arsenal against the pandemic to 135 million doses of various vaccine candidates.
“We aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
Some 45 vaccine candidates are in human trials worldwide, with Pfizer Inc saying it could file in late November for U.S. authorisation, opening up the possibility of a vaccine being available in the United States by the end of the year.
Moderna and AstraZeneca are close behind the largest U.S. drugmaker and are likely to have early data on their vaccine candidates before the end of the year.
A vaccine could be launched as early as February – months earlier than expected – as last-stage trials begin this month and studies have so far showed it is safe and effective, a senior government scientist told Reuters.
Bharat Biotech, a private company that is developing COVAXIN with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had earlier hoped to launch it only in the second quarter of next year.
“The vaccine has shown good efficacy,” senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant, who is also a member of its COVID-19 task force, said in New Delhi.
“It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available.”
Bharat Biotech could not immediately be contacted.
A launch in February would make COVAXIN the first India-made vaccine to be rolled out.