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Balram Bhargava, DG-ICMR speaks during a press conference, in New Delhi (ANI)
Balram Bhargava, DG-ICMR speaks during a press conference, in New Delhi (ANI)

India on fast-track mode to develop Covid-19 vaccine: ICMR

  • ICMR said there should not be a delay of a single day for regulatory clearances for vaccines to break the transmission of the virus in the country
  • The vaccine candidates have got their sites ready and they are doing the clinical study approximately on 1,000 volunteers each at different sites, added ICMR

Amid the worldwide efforts in developing a potential coronavirus vaccine, India today said the country has two indigenous candidate vaccines which scientists are trying their best to fast-track the development of.

Earlier, DCGI gave clearance to two pharma giants Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL), who have partnered with ICMR to conduct phase one and two of the clinical trials on humans for Covid -19 vaccine.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in a press briefing today said there should not be a delay of a single day for regulatory clearances for these vaccines to break the transmission of the virus in the country as soon as possible.

"There are two indigenous candidate vaccines and they have gone successful toxicity studies in rats, mice and rabbits. These data were submitted to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) following which both these candidate vaccines got clearance to start the early phase of human trials," informed ICMR Director-General.

"Now, they have got their sites ready and they are doing the clinical study approximately on 1,000 volunteers each at different sites. They are trying to do early clinical testing for these two candidate vaccines. There are pre-clinical experiments as well for other vaccines being done at National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. Experts are working day and night to do these experiments and it is their moral duty to develop vaccines as fast as possible as more than half a million people have succumbed to COVID-19 across the world. So "fast-tracking" the development of COVID vaccines is more important," added Dr Bhargava.

He also highlighted Russia, China and other major countries' success in its early phases of developing a vaccine.

Russia has fast tracked a vaccine which has been successful in its early phases. They have fast tracked its development."

Earlier, India set a timeline for its first potential coronavirus vaccine -- from human trials to general use next month.

Bharat Biotech International has received regulatory approval to start human clinical trials for its experimental shot and it already has ICMR expediting the process.

The under-development vaccine is “envisaged" to be rolled out “for public health use by August 15 after completion of all clinical trials," ICMR said in a 2 July letter to clinical trial sites. It “is one of the top priority projects which is being monitored at the topmost level of the government."

Moreover, speaking at the press briefing, Bhargava also mentioned the success of China in speeding up the process of its Covid-19 vaccine programme and studies with that vaccine in the country. Apart from that, ICMR DG spoke about the speedy progress of the vaccine candidates in United States and the United Kingdom. "UK is working on accelerating its Oxford vaccine candidate and how it can be used for human trials," he added.

The director of the apex medical research institute also mentioned the importance of India's pharmacy to the world, especially during such crucial times, saying 60% of generic drugs uitilised in US are Indian origin.

India is considered as the "pharmacy of the world", Balram said.

"Any vaccine candidate which is being produced or developed in any part of the world will ultimately have to be scaled up by India or by China. Because these two countries are major producers of vaccines in the world and India supplies 60 per cent of vaccines to the world that all developed nations are aware of it. And therefore, they are in communication with India for the vaccine distribution ultimately, if it is developed to the whole world," Bhargava said.

Meanwhile, the number of fresh coronavirus cases in India rose 28,498 on Tuesday, pushing its overall tally to 9,06,752, even as the recovery rate further improved. The death toll climbed to 23,727 with 553 people succumbing to the infection in past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry's latest data.

In past 24 hours, 17,989 patients were declared cured, taking the number of recoveries to 5,71,459. There are 3,11,565 active cases of the coronavirus infection currently in the country. The recovery rate currently stands at 63.02% while the number of recoveries exceed active cases by 2.59 lakh.

With inputs from ANI

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