The first made-in-India coronavirus vaccine may be out before this Independence Day. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is fast-tracking efforts to develop “Covaxin” in partnership with Bharat Biotech International Limited. It has picked some 12 institutes for clinical trials of the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine (BBV152 COVID vaccine), the government’s top medical research body has said.
The ICMR has asked the institutes to step up clinical trials as it is a “priority project” monitored at the topmost level of the government.
“The vaccine is derived from a strain of SARS-CoV-2 isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and BBIL are jointly working for the pre-clinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine,” the ICMR said in a letter to the institutes.
The ICMR shared its plan to launch the vaccine for public health use by 15 August. The agency is collaborating with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) for clinical trials of indigenous vaccine ‘Covaxin’ for the coronavirus disease.
Bharat Biotech India Ltd’s COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covaxin’ has become the first indigenously developed candidate to receive the Drug Controller General of India’s approval to enter human trials.
Bharat Biotech’s facility located in Genome Valley in Hyderabad developed and manufactured the indigenous, inactivated vaccine.
The final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project, the ICMR told the institutes, advising them to speed up approvals related to clinical trials and ensure that subjects are enrolled starting this week.
“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,” said ICMR’s letter.
The 12 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), Goa, and Bhubaneswar-based Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital.
So far, India has two indigenous manufacturers for the potential COVID-19 vaccine. Another potential coronavirus vaccine is indigenously developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila Healthcare.
The authority has approved no vaccine for commercial use against COVID-19. Out of 100 odd separate efforts in this direction, scientists are working on more than a dozen possible vaccines, testing them on humans. Some have shown potential in early-stage trials.
Meanwhile, India reported the highest ever single-day spike of 20,903 COVID-19 cases, according to the data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. With this, India’s coronavirus tally has risen to 6,25,544.