Science Ministry retracts statement after saying COVID-19 vaccine unlikely before 2021

A research scientist works in the laboratory of the Serum Institute the world's largest maker of vaccines which is working on a vaccine against the coronavirus disease in Pune India

Further down, a line follows a note on two Indian vaccines, COVAXIN and ZyCov-D, which are among 11 vaccine candidates that have entered human trials. "It's not about getting there first but to be able to do it well and it is good that India has been able to come up with candidate vaccines, which is not a small achievement". To my knowledge, such an accelerated development pathway has not been done ever for any kind of vaccine, even for the ones being tried out in other countries.

She said the coronavirus pandemic calls for unprecedented efforts to develop a vaccine and suggested that performing trials in areas and among groups with a high risk of infection will help in accumulating the necessary endpoints in a shorter time. ICMR spokesperson also said that getting approval for the vaccine for general use depends on the outcomes of these trials.

India is eagerly awaiting a COVID-19 vaccine. India is now working on more than seven vaccines, and this week, two candidate groups have been approved to begin human clinical trials of their prototypes.

But India should keep in mind that most vaccine candidates fail, says Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. These trials involve evaluation of safety (Phase 1 trial), efficacy and side effects at different dose levels (Phase 2 trial) and confirmation of safety and efficacy in thousands of healthy people (Phase 3 trial) before its release for public use. "Any vaccine that is going to be used at large scale must demonstrate efficacy and safety", Swaminathan said.

She also added that the World Health Organization, along with the GAVI and the CEPI, is in dialogue with Secretary, DBT, and five Indian vaccine manufacturers to provide any kind of support and facilitate advancing the candidates to trials.

The trial will start "most probably" by Monday, said C. Prabhakar Reddy, a professor in Hyderabad's Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences - one of the trial sites that received ICMR's letter.

A vaccine ready for public use will allow the safe reopening of schools, offices and factories to revive India's economy, which is hurtling toward its first contraction in more than four decades. It will also tie in with self-reliance - a motto Modi has repeated often in recent weeks. He asked the hospitals to fast-track all approvals for the vaccine and be ready to enroll participants "no later than 7 July 2020", adding that "noncompliance will be viewed very seriously". Over the years, it has successfully developed vaccines for Japanese encephalitis and hepatitis B.

Sarah Gilbert, the lead researcher involved in the project, recently said that the shot should be able to provide a good amount of immunity to healthy individuals.



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