The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a deep impact on people’s livelihoods and health. The economic and social disruption caused by this unprecedented pandemic is devastating. As of November 24, official data from John Hopkins University shows that there are more than 59 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide.
The only factor which keeps our spirits high is the fact that potential Covid-19 vaccine candidates are showing great results in the final stages of trials. Let us take a look at the updates of 4 major vaccines that could be supplied in India, as soon as they receive regulatory approvals.
- Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine
- Gamaleya Institute-RDIF
- Bharat Biotech-ICMR
- Which Stocks Could Benefit from Vaccine?
The AZD1222 Covid-19 vaccine is jointly developed by a Swedish-British pharma company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. According to trials conducted by the developers, the vaccine has shown an overall efficacy rate of 70%. An analysis issued by Oxford-AZ on 23rd November showed some very exciting results. The participants who received a lower amount of the vaccine in the first dose and then the full amount in the second dose were found to be 90% less likely to develop Covid.
The vaccine has also shown that it works across all age groups, and is also able to reduce asymptomatic infection. Another important feature of the Oxford-AZ vaccine is that it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures. This means that it would be cheaper to distribute and administer the vaccine to people. Experts believe that these 3 factors make this candidate a better choice, as compared to the results published by Pfizer and Moderna. There were no severe cases or hospitalisation in the 23,000 people who got the shot.
The developers of the vaccine expect to supply 2.9 billion doses once they receive emergency use authorization. They have also stated that the vaccine would be made available in the UK first. The United States, the United Kingdom, and India are the main countries that have committed to buy a majority of its doses. The price of the shot has been set at $4-5.
It is expected to be cheaper in India, as the doses are also being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). The SII had partnered with AstraZeneca to develop the vaccine under the ‘Covidshield’ brand in our country There is a high chance that this vaccine will be the first to be administered to Indian citizens.
“The Serum Institute of India (SII) can apply for emergency use authorization (EUA) of the AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine in India once it is approved in the UK, since it is a partner developer” – Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS.
The Covid-19 vaccine candidate termed mRNA-BNT162 is being developed by US-based Pfizer Inc and Germany-based BioNTech. According to the final trials conducted by both companies, the vaccine has proven to be 95% effective in preventing Covid-19. Pfizer has approached the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to appeal for an emergency use authorization of its vaccine. However, a report on November 23 states that the USFDA will only assess the appeal on December 10.
Pfizer and BioNTech expect to supply 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine, as soon as they receive the approval from the USFDA. The United States, the UK, European Union, and Japan have already committed to buying the doses. The price per shot has been set at $20. Pfizer expects the vaccine to be rolled out by Christmas time in the United States.
On November 24, India’s Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that India may not require the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He stated that other vaccine candidates such as the one developed by Oxford-AZ are showing promising results. Also, the storage and distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine require an ultra-cold chain of minus 70 degrees. This would make it very expensive in India. However, based on India’s current Covid-19 situation, the government may consider buying a significant quantity of this vaccine.
The Sputnik-V vaccine is being developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Centre and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). They have partnered with Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy’s to distribute the vaccine in India. According to the second interim analysis of 18,000 people who got the shot, the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95%. They are currently undergoing Phase-3 trials with a total of 40,000 volunteers. RDIF has stated that Sputnik-V provides a stronger and longer-term immune response.
The developers of the vaccine expect to supply 1 billion doses of the vaccine, once they receive regulatory approvals. Russia, India, Vietnam, and Brazil have committed to buying the vaccine doses. The vaccine has been priced at $10 per shot.
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has partnered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to develop India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine- COVAXIN. The vaccine had initiated Phase-3 trials earlier this month with 26,000 volunteers from across 22 sites in India. This is the largest clinical trial conducted for a coronavirus vaccine candidate in India. On 22nd November, they announced that Covaxin will be at least 60% effective based on earlier trial results.
However, the company has not released the results of its Phase 1 & 2 results to the public. This makes us wonder about the actual effectiveness of the vaccine. The company expects the vaccine to be rolled out by mid-2021, after necessary approvals.
Which Stocks Could Benefit from Vaccine?
We can see that many sectors would benefit from the development of a vaccine in India. Whether it be manufacturing, storage, distribution, or administration of the vaccine, the support of many companies is needed. Earlier this month, it was announced that Pfizer’s vaccine needed a cold-storage facility to be stored and transported. On the same day, Snowman Logistics Ltd. said that they would create the necessary technology to provide logistical support for the vaccine.
Apollo Hospitals has also announced that they have the cold storage chain ready for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. They are ready to administer 10 lakh doses of the Covid-19 vaccine per day, once it is launched. The company has trained around 10,000 people to administer the vaccine in India.
Way back in July, Piramal Glass announced that they will be ready to supply more glass vials for the Covid-19 vaccines in India. They have taken proactive measures to meet any surge in demand for glass vials from the pharmaceutical industry across the globe. It has been estimated that India will require 6 crore vials for Covid-19 shots in the first six months of the vaccine being launched.
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories will conduct all necessary trials and distribute the Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine in India. The vaccine had arrived in Hyderabad on November 11, after regulators had approved to go ahead with the Phase-3 trial of the vaccine in India.
Just another thought that came into the team’s mind while brainstorming was that syringe manufacturers would also benefit from a vaccine. Companies like Albert David can be looked into. Also, diagnostic firms such as Dr. Lal PathLabs Ltd. would benefit from their Covid-19 testing facilities, until vaccines are launched.
What other sectors do you think will benefit from a Covid-19 vaccine?
As we can see, the Covid-19 vaccine candidates are showing great results. The vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca seems to be the most promising one, as compared to others. The developers of these vaccines are hopeful to supply it by the beginning of 2021. However, experts state that the distribution of the vaccine for all Indian citizens would be a major hurdle. For this, large pharmaceutical companies are also seeking logistical support from Indian firms to store and distribute vaccines. So, make sure that you follow news relating to such deals or orders.
The sentiments surrounding the efficiency of Covid-19 vaccine candidates have certainly lifted our spirits. However, do bear in mind that cases of Covid-19 are still rising, and many countries had even re-introduced lockdowns. Some parts of India are still reporting a large number of daily cases as well. Let us hope that the vaccine is available for every single citizen of India, once it is launched.