As the world looks desperately at the ongoing trials for the vaccine to fight Covid-19, Dr Shekhar Mande, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), says they are soon going to start clinical trials on 50 patients with their consent, followed by 600 patients. Speaking about Mw vaccine, which is also known as anti-leprosy drug, he said: “The vaccine candidate that CSIR wishes to undertake for clinical trials in collaboration with Cadila Pharmaceuticals, is called Mycobacterium W (Mw).
It is expected to boost the host’s immunity by activating Th1 response, while suppressing Th2 response. By boosting the specific human immune system, it is hoped that Covid-19 infection can be fought effectively by the host.” On the BCG vaccine which is also believed worldwide to reduce damage caused by Covid-19, he said: “BCG is a preparation of Mycobacterium Bovis BCG, which has similar response by the host, that is triggering Th1, and suppressing Th2. Therefore, both BCG and Mw are believed to be similar as far as boosting the host’s immunity is concerned. There is considerable thinking around the world that certain vaccines that boost the host’s immunity will be helpful in fighting Covid-19, and therefore BCG might be useful.”
He further said that the CSIR and Cadila Pharmaceutical have obtained approval to conduct clinical trials. On talking about the stages for the trials and tie-ups with the hospitals for the research work, Dr Shekhar said, “The stages for trials are such that hospitals have to obtain the Institutional Ethics Committee’s approval, so that all the ethical practices are in place. Once the ethical approvals are obtained, patients will be recruited with prior consent. Three hospitals involved in the study will be AIIMS, Bhopal; AIIMS, New Delhi and PGIMER, Chandigarh.” While talking about the results, he said: “If the results are positive, it will be useful to everyone.” CSIR has also prepared a paper-based test which is yet to be approved. He said, “Testing-I is the test prepared by CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) is a Crispr/Cas9-based test. It is paper-based. If approved, it will be fast, cheap and accurate.” The cost of the test is expected to be between Rs 300 and Rs 500. The test kit would give results in 20 minutes.