With its first case reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, COVID-19 quickly became a pandemic and global concern with millions of people getting infected and dying of this disease. As of February 8, 2021, more than 106 million cases were confirmed, with more than 2.31 million deaths. The world witnessed the collapse of numerous industries, rising unemployment, burdened healthcare workers, closure of schools and colleges, suspended airlines and a disrupted global supply chain. Researchers worldwide toiled day and night to develop a vaccine and within less than 12 months into the pandemic, several scientists had developed vaccines to combat this disease/virus; however, the challenge was to make these vaccines available to people around the world.
As of December 2020, there were >200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the development stage, of which, at least 52 candidates are currently undergoing human trials. Moreover, there are several others in the Phase 1/2 and will soon enter Phase 3 in the coming months. Typically, for a vaccine to be considered safe and effective, it must clear multiple evaluation processes, which usually require ~12 years, right from complete development, testing and approval procedures to large-scale manufacturing and availability in the market. But, due to the rapid spread of this virus and mounting death tolls, researchers were prompted to fast-track the entire methodology, wherein they shortened the trial cycles, limited the number of participants and conducted parallel phases; all this while ensuring safety and quality standards throughout the process. Therefore, having various/several candidates in the pipeline raises chances of drawing out one or more successful efficacious vaccines.
The US, the UK, India, Russia and China are leading the global race of COVID-19 vaccine development. India has been at the forefront of this activity and played a pivotal role in developing indigenous vaccine candidates, manufacturing potential vaccines in collaboration with international peers and conducting clinical trials at an extensive scale.