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Health

Indian drugmaker Biological E. starts human trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India’s Biological E. Ltd has started human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate and expects results by February, the drugmaker said on Monday.

The Hyderabad-based firm initiated phase I and phase II trials of its vaccine candidate - being developed with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and U.S.-based Dynavax Technologies Corp DVAX.O - after getting the green signal from the Drugs Controller General of India.

The trial will test two doses of the vaccine in about 360 healthy subjects aged 18 to 65 years, Biological E. said.

Separately, Bharat Biotech, a private company developing a vaccine candidate, COVAXIN, with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research, said it was starting phase III trials on Monday.

India has reported 8.85 million confirmed cases of the virus - the second highest in the world, after the United States - but the number of new daily cases has fallen since a peak in mid-September.

Meanwhile, hopes for a vaccine got a fresh boost after U.S.-based Moderna Inc MRNA.O said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial.

Last week, drugmaker Pfizer Inc PFE.N and German partner BioNTech SE said their vaccine was more than 90% effective.

An Indian government-backed vaccine could be launched as early as February - months earlier than expected - as last-stage trials begin this month, a senior government scientist previously told Reuters.

Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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