COVID-19 vaccine: What are the latest updates?

Cheryl Sanders
July 7, 2020

Earlier in the month, the ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava had written to 12 trial sites for the COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Covaxin, saying that all clinical trials need to be completed by August 15.

On July 3, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that India was aiming to launch the world's first COVID-19 vaccine by August 15.

"The nod by Drug Controller General of India, CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation), for conduct of human trial for vaccines, marks the beginning of the end", the ministry said.

Given that the coronavirus is spreading in the country at an exponential rate, people are waiting for the vaccine to be available soon.

The ICMR had clarified on Saturday that its letter to the doctors was meant to "cut unnecessary red tape without bypassing necessary procedures".

Dr Venkateswaran had emphasised the importance of Indian manufacturers in the effort to develop and produce vaccines.

Swaminathan further said that it is encouraging to see that at least seven Indian companies are developing potential vaccines.

"They can't do that", said Jayaprakash Muliyil, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee in National Institute of Epidemiology, referring to the targeted timeline of the vaccine launch. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis a year ago found that about one in three vaccines in the first stage of testing later gains approval.

The Indian Academy of Sciences (IASc) has noted that a letter reportedly issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is circulating in the news and other media. "All of them must be tested, through the various phases, in collaboration with the DBT [Department of Biotechnology] and the ICMR, and till we see results from these trials, we can not predict which of them will be successful".

More than 10 million cases have been reported worldwide, with more than 110 independent scientific institutions competing for the potential COVID-19 vaccine. Ella carries a stellar reputation in the vaccine industry, with his firm having developed the world's first typhoid conjugate vaccine, as well as the world's cheapest rotavirus vaccine, both pre-approved by WHO. He asked the hospitals to fast-track all approvals for the vaccine and be ready to enroll participants "no later than 7 July 2020", adding that "noncompliance will be viewed very seriously". Despite the "unquestioned urgent need", the vaccine has to go through the three phases to evaluate safety, efficacy and side effects, and confirmation of safety before release for public use.

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