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Covid-19: India’s nod to Russia’s Sputnik V; a dozen more vaccines on way

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: With the second wave of Covid-19 severely sweeping India and many other countries, a number of vaccines are expected to arrive in the global market this year, as New Delhi gave a green signal for emergency use of Russian vaccine Sputnik V on Monday.

More than 60 pharmaceutical companies in the world are currently developing vaccines to fight the pandemic menace. Their candidates are at different stages of development.

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan told a TV news channel on Sunday that, apart from Covishield and Covaxin, which are currently being used in India’s nationwide vaccination drive, many other vaccine candidates are in the pipeline to ease supplies.

About a dozen such candidates are at different stages of development from pre-clinical trials to roll out in the market. As part of this process, a special committee of the Drug Controller-General of India (DCGU), on Monday, approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine candidate for emergency use in the country. The Russian vaccine-maker has tied up with two Indian contract manufacturing pharmaceutical companies for its rollout.

Besides Sputnik V, two other vaccine candidates, which may roll out soon, are Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen and Zydus Cadilla’s ZyCov-D.

American multinational J&J is likely to get the government nod soon to begin clinical trials of its single-dose vaccine, which had already been approved in the US, Europe, and other countries. The African Union has also opted for it. J&J has signed a deal with an Indian firm for contract manufacturing Janssen.

Meanwhile, reports said that a Canadian biotechnology company’s nasal spray could provide an important breakthrough in Covid-19 treatment. Its clinical trials in Canada and the UK have shown encouraging results.

Canadian biotech company SaNOtize Research & Development Corp (SaNOtize) has developed nitric oxide nasal spray (NONS), which can protect people from viruses entering the body through the upper nasal pathways. According to the trial findings, this could help them fight the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

NONS could prevent the transmission of Covid-19, shorten its course, and reduce the severity of coronavirus infection symptoms and damage in those already infected, media reported.

New Zealand and Israel have given interim approval for the sale of NONS. SaNOtize has applied for emergency use authorization to the regulatory authorities in the UK and Canada.

In more than 7,000 self-administered treatments given in Canadian clinical trials, researchers reported no concerning health issues.

According to Dr. Stephen Winchester, Consultant Medical Virologist and Chief Investigator of this NHS Clinical Trial, the therapeutic treatment could be a major advance in the battle against the pandemic.

This simple portable nasal spray, based on nitric oxide (NO), could be highly effective in Covid-19 treatment and reduce onward virus transmission. “Simply stated, I think this could be revolutionary,” said the healthcare professional.

NONS is designed to kill the virus and can prevent it from invading, as well as spreading to the lungs.