Private medical firm Bharat Biotech, which is currently developing a Covid-19 cure along with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research, has said that a vaccine could be launched as early as February 2021.

"The vaccine has shown good efficacy. It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available," senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Bharat Biotech, which recently received approval to conduct Phase III human trials of Covaxin, has said that the vaccine has been found to be safe without any major adverse events in the first two stages of trials and that its goal is to attain strong immune response rate in clinical trials.

Reuters quoted Kant, who is the head of ICMR’s research management, policy, planning and coordination cell, as saying that it was up to the health ministry to decide if Covaxin shots can be given to people even before the third-stage trials are over.

It has shown safety and efficacy in the phase 1 and 2 trials and in the animal studies - so it is safe but you can’t be 100% sure unless the phase 3 trials are over," Kant told Reuters.

Covaxin has been derived from a strain of the novel coronavirus isolated by the National Institute of Virology in Pune. 

Bharat Biotech developed an 'inactivated' vaccine at its high-containment facility at Genome Valley in Hyderabad. 

"Once the vaccine is injected into a human, it has no potential to infect or replicate, since it is a killed virus. It just serves to the immune system as a dead virus and mounts an antibody response towards the virus," Bharat Biotech said.