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India Looking at Launching COVID-19 Vaccine on Independence Day

by Sidharth Pandey 4 months ago Views 1994
India’s first indigenous vaccine against COVID-19 could be launched latest by 15th of August (Independence Day). The Head of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargava has written a letter to 12 hospitals and institutions regarding ‘fast-tracking’ of human field trials so that the vaccine could be launched for the larger public latest by August 15.

The vaccine is being developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) in partnership with ICMR and was cleared for human trials by the Drug Controller General of India, on June 29. In his letter to the 12 institutions selected for the trials, Bhargava has asked them to enrol candidates for trials no later than July 7 so that vaccines could be given to them and their response recorded.

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The ICMR chief wrote, “You have been chosen as a clinical trial site of the BBV152 COVID vaccine. ln view of the public health emergency due to COVID-19 pandemic and urgency to launch the vaccine, you are strictly advised to fast track all approvals related to initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrolment is  initiated no later than 7th July 2020.  Kindly note that non-compliance will be viewed very seriously. Therefore, you are advised to treat this project on highest priority and meet the given timelines without any lapse.”

Covaxin is the first indigenous vaccine to get the clearance for human trials from the Drug Controller General of India. Dr Krishna M. Ella, the founder of the company, says that the results so far in animal trials have been very encouraging.  “We are working on three different vaccines, one is with ICMR, one is with Thomas Jefferson and the third is with the University of Wisconsin", Dr Krishna Ella told senior science journalist, Pallava Bagla, a day after the permission for human trials was granted.

(See the complete interview of Dr Krishna Ella by senior science journalist Pallava Bagla here)

Dr Ella says that his company has not taken any money from the government for the developing the vaccine. ‘ICMR is helping us with clinical trials. For us it is a moral responsibility to help society as an industry and as a scientist. When society is facing suffering, we don’t want to exploit the government for this. We have shut down the polio injectable vaccine plant and converted that project to make the COVID-19 vaccine’ says Dr Ella.

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