The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said that it aims to launch a coronavirus vaccine being developed in partnership with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech for public health use by India’s Independence Day on 15 August. Apart from Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine named Covaxin, yet another Indian pharmaceutical company, Zydus Cadila has got permission for human trials of a vaccine developed by it.
India’s apex medical research body, ICMR has been working with twelve institutes for clinical trials of the first domestically-produced vaccine against COVID-19. The council wrote to all these institutes late Thursday mentioning that it envisages launching the vaccine for public health use by 15 August at the latest.
"It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use at the latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials. Bharat Biotech is working expeditiously to meet the target, however, the final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project", the ICMR letter says.
ICMR has also told the institutes to “fast track” the clinical trials of the vaccine as it is one of the “top priority projects” being monitored at the highest level of government.
A senior government source said, “Zydus Cadila has submitted data to DCGI based on animal trial they conducted. Animals like mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats were used. The animals developed antibodies against the virus", said a government source.
Zydus Cadila has been granted permission to conduct Phase I and Phase II clinical trials after successful animal trials, the official added.
Currently, at least 13 experimental vaccines are at various stage of clinical trials, while 127 other companies or government bodies are engaged in developing vaccines to fight COVID-19.
Last Friday, the World Health Organisation identified candidates developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca and Moderna Inc as the frontrunners in the race to launch effective vaccines against the virus. Brazil has already signed a $127 million agreement with the British developer to start producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine locally.
Meanwhile, total coronavirus cases in India have reached to 625,544, with 20,903 cases registered over the past 24 hours. The Indian Health Ministry also claimed that 20,032 people recovered from the virus over the same time period.