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Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Dr Balram Bhargava (PTI)
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Dr Balram Bhargava (PTI)

Russia has successfully fast tracked Covid-19 vaccine development, says India

  • ICMR also mentioned the success of China in speeding up the process of its Covid-19 vaccine programme and studies with that vaccine
  • Russia's first Covid-19 vaccine, scientists said they are eyeing to launch the vaccine by mid-August, according to a report

Amid several reports pouring in about the Russia's Covid-19 vaccine development, which is purportedly deemed as the world's first coronavirus vaccine to launch as early as mid-August, Indian government today acknowledged Russia's success in its early phases of developing a vaccine.

The Indian Medical Research Institute (ICMR)'s director general Balram Bhargava today said, "Russia has fast tracked a vaccine which has been successful in its early phases. They have fast tracked its development."

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.

About Russia's first Covid-19 vaccine, Russian scientists said they are eyeing to launch the vaccine by mid-August, says a report.

According to Director of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute, Alexander Gintsburg, there are hopes that "a small amount" of the vaccine would be available to people in the middle of August, and private companies would start producing vaccines in the beginning or the middle of September, as reported by Sputnik News.

The head of the research institute added that the vaccine would not be available in pharmacies in the near future.

Earlier on Sunday, Russia's Sechenov University announced that it had successfully completed the first phase of clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine, developed by Russia's Defence Ministry's Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

In a major development, India has also 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 India’s apex medical research body 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."

On the other hand, China is forging ahead in the race to develop a vaccine too, with Sinovac Biotech's experimental Covid-19 vaccine set to become the country's second and the world's third to enter final stage testing later this month, according to Reuters.

Four of the Chinese candidates in human trials are inactivated vaccines, including Sinovac's and two vaccines from China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).

To speed up the process, China allowed Sinopharm and Sinovac to combine Phase I and Phase II trials for their vaccine candidates.

There are currently only two experimental Covid-19 vaccines in final Phase III trials - one from Sinopharm and another from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Sinovac's is set to become the third later this month.

According to the World Health Organization's protocols, a vaccine has to go through three phases of studies to be approved for large-scale production.

Covid-19 human trials go as follows: Phase 1 is normally involves small-scale studies to determine a candidate vaccine's clinical tolerance and safety. Phase 2 then includes a larger number of subjects, with a focus on determining the optimal dose, intervals between doses and the minimum necessary number of doses of a candidate vaccine in a target population. Phase 3 trials are the largest in terms of number of subjects. A candidate vaccine is ready to move into industrial production if the last phase provides clear and definitive evidence of its safety and efficacy.

Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus cases in the world has surpassed 13 million infections and killed over 500,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. While over 7.7 million virus-infected people have recovered so far, scientists and other healthcare systems worldwide are trying to upgrade production and development of a potential Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

With inputs from agencies

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