Covishield showing ‘good’ immune response

One of them, after getting the shot, got tested and found a good amount of antibodies had been generated

Covishield, the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, has reportedly shown a “good” immune response among volunteers in the trials at JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research (JSSAHER) in Mysuru.

One volunteer, who received shots in phase 2 and phase 3 trials, told The Hindu that he got tested for antibodies about 25 days after the first dose was administered and found that a good amount of antibodies had been generated. “Another friend also got tested and had a similar result,” said the volunteer.

All the volunteers, before taking part in the trials at JSSAHER, underwent tests for COVID-19 and for the presence of antibodies. Only those who tested negative for both were enrolled.

Sources confirmed that many volunteers, after receiving the vaccination, got tested for antibodies at private laboratories. These tests had shown that the vaccine had helped develop a good immune response.

Tests under way

However, officials at JSSAHER said Covishield’s immunogenicity tests to determine the presence of antibodies are still under way as part of the trial. “The blood samples collected before and after the vaccination have been sent to the designated laboratories as advised by the sponsors to test the immunogenicity. There will be a centralised assessment of the antibody titers of all vaccine participants from different sites,” said Pro Chancellor of JSSAHER B. Suresh. Of an estimated 1,200 volunteers in the clinical trials of Covishield, produced by Serum Institute of India (SII), across 18 different sites, over 100 volunteers were enrolled by JSSAHER. “Ours is the largest site. We are among the few chosen for immunogenicity tests,” Dr. Suresh added.

The results of the immunogenicity test are communicated to the sites only at the completion of the trial. “We use the scientific data to further our scientific pursuit,” he said.

However, SII will share the data with the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) to seek clearance for manufacturing and marketing the vaccine.

SII has already ramped up its production facilities to start large-scale manufacture and at least a few million doses should be available soon after the clearance is given, said Dr. Suresh, adding that he expected the clearance to come by next February-March2021.

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