With the Coronavirus infecting over 74,000 people in the country and killing more than 2,500 people, India has ramped up its efforts to fight the deadly virus that originated in China’s Wuhan City.
Many companies and institutes, both in the public and private sectors, have started the work on developing vaccines and drugs, including repurposed drugs and new candidate drugs, and other Covid-19 related technologies to boost the country’s fight against the pandemic.
Public institutions like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and various IITs, and many others, have played a key role in developing technologies such as ventilators for Covid-19 patients, rapid testing kits for Covid-19, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits for health workers among others.
The CSIR’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) has recently developed a low-cost strip test that can detect the Covid-19 within one hour. The test is likely to be available for the first phase of mass testing in four weeks.
Called Feluda, the test uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to identify and target the genetic material of Sars-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The CSIR has also identified the top 25 drugs/drug candidates for repurposing them for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in India.
The repurposed drugs can be quickly deployed for treatment as opposed to new drugs which need almost a decade of development.
Among these top 25 drugs, Favipiravir a broad-spectrum inhibitor of viral RNA polymerase has emerged as one of the most promising drugs.
Pharma companies like Glenmark have started the phase 3 clinical trial of the Favipiravir among Covid-19 patients in India to test the safety and efficacy of the antiviral drug.
Meanwhile, IIT Guwahati has collaborated with Ahmedabad-based animal healthcare company Hester Biosciences to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. It expects the vaccine to be ready for animal studies by the end of this year.
The vaccine is planned to be based on the recombinant avian paramyxovirus-based vector platform. The recombinant avian paramyxovirus-1 will be used to express the immunogenic protein of SARS-CoV-2, and that will be a vaccine candidate for further study.
Six other Indian companies are also working on developing the Covid-19 vaccine. These include Zydus Cadila, Serum Institute of India, Biological E, Bharat Biotech, Indian Immunologicals, and Mynvax.
While the Zydus Cadila is working on two vaccines, the others are developing one vaccine each.
Meanwhile, a group of scientists at a Jawaharlal Nehru University lab are also working on projects involving fast-tracking of BCG vaccine and recombinant BCG against Covid-19.
The research team led by Professor Gobardhan Das and comprising Anand Ranganathan and Shailja Singh, is also working on the screening of FDA-approved drugs against the Covid-19.
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