The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) set an ambitious release date of August 15 for public use of the Coronavirus vaccine being developed in association with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.
“The vaccine is expected to be released for public health use no later than August 15, 2020 after completing all clinical trials. BBIL is working fast to achieve the goal, however the end result will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project, “said a letter from ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava, accessed by News18.
ICMR sources have confirmed the authenticity of the letter, but say it was only for internal communication. Bharat Biotech has declined to comment on the letter. The set date for the vaccine launch is only a month and a half away.
WHO scientists, on the other hand, have predicted that a safe and effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could take at least 12-18 months to develop. The development of vaccines for a new pathogen traditionally takes many years or even decades.
The ICMR has selected 12 institutes for the clinical trial of the country’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, an official said. ICMR has developed the indigenous vaccine COVID-19 (BBV152 COVID vaccine) in association with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL).
“The vaccine is derived from a SARS-CoV-2 strain isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and BBIL are working together for the preclinical and clinical development of this vaccine,” said an official.
The Bhubaneswar Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital under SOA, considered a university, have been chosen by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct human clinical trials of India’s first coronavirus vaccine, said a institute official.
The ICMR has asked the 12 institutes to accelerate clinical trials of the vaccine, as it is being considered as one of the highest priority projects being monitored at the highest level of government.
In view of the public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgency to launch the vaccine, the selected institutes are strongly recommended to expedite all approvals related to the start of the clinical trial and ensure that enrollment of the subject is started during the first week of July.
In addition to IMS and SUM Hospital here, the other institutes selected for the clinical trial are located in Visakhapatnam, Rohtak, New Delhi, Patna, Belgaum (Karnataka), Nagpur, Gorakhpur, Kattankulathur (Tamil Nadu), Hyderabad, Arya Nagar, Kanpur ( Uttar Pradesh) and Goa.