Coronavirus vaccine: Indigenous COVID-19 vaccine this year? Here’s what a govt panel was told

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Published: July 11, 2020 12:59 PM

Scientists and officials from government science and technology departments told a parliament panel that no COVID vaccine appears possible before early next year.

Covid-19 vaccineThe officials told the panel that COVID-19 vaccine will be available commercially in India only in early 2021. (Photo: The Financial Express)

As the world is reeling under coronavirus pandemic, everyone is eagerly waiting for its vaccine. Scientists, doctors, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare experts across the globe, including in India, are working hard to come up with a vaccine as soon as possible while adhering to all guidelines and protocols of vaccine development. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has set up an ambitious timeline for an indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. However, a vaccine is unlikely this year, according to officials and scientists from the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology.

During a briefing to the members of the Parliament Standing Committee on Science and Technology on the government’s preparedness for coronavirus outbreak, including vaccines, drugs and pharmaceuticals and health equipment, they informed that no vaccine appears possible before early next year, The Indian Express reported.

The officials told the panel that a vaccine will be available commercially in India only in early 2021, reported The Indian Express. They informed the panel that it could be a vaccine developed and manufactured domestically or developed elsewhere and manufactured in India.

After hearing these scientists and officials and evaluating the COVID-19 situation in the country, the panel led by Jairam Ramesh felt that the departments and bodies should focus on developing low-cost medical devices, like ventilators costing under Rs 30,000, reported The Indian Express. The panel pointed out that health security is as critical as defence security.

Earlier this month, the ICMR had reportedly written to healthcare facilities undertaking human clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine—Covaxin, a candidate vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Pune-based National Institute of Virology—to fast-track process as it envisaged to launch a COVID vaccine for public health use latest by August 15.

Many scientists and healthcare experts criticised ICMR for the August 15 deadline; they said the timeline is “unreasonable” and “unrealistic”. However, the ICMR later issued a statement clarifying that its letter was to cut unnecessary red tape.

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