The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has partnered with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) to step up efforts for a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The ICMR and Bharat Biotech intend to launch an indigenous vaccine for Covid-19 by August 15 after the end of the clinical trials.
ICMR has picked 13 institutions across India for clinical trials and asked them to start the subject enrollment by July 7. In a letter to the heads of the chosen institutions, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said that along with Bharat Biotech, they plan to fast-track clinical trials of the indigenous coronavirus vaccine (BBV152 COVID vaccine).
The 13 institutes have been asked by the ICMR to fast track clinical trials of the vaccine as it is being recognized as one of the top preference projects which are being observed at the highest level of the government.
'Treat this project on highest priority'
It noted that this is the first indigenous vaccine being developed by India and is one of the top priority projects which is being monitored at the topmost level of the government. "The vaccine is being derived from a strain of SARS-CoV-2 isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and BBIL are jointly working for the preclinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine," he wrote.
"It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by August 15, 2020, after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL 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," reads the letter dated July 2.
Notifying the organisations of their selection as clinical trial sites for the vaccine, the IMCR director-general stringently informed them to fast track all permissions related to the initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrollment is initiated no later July 7, 2020.
"Kindly note that non-compliance will be viewed very seriously. Therefore, you are advised to treat this project on the highest priority and meet the given timelines without any lapse," he added as quoted by a news agency.
The list of establishments involved in vaccine trials are -- Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad, King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam, University of Health Sciences in Rohtak, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the national capital and AIIMS Patna.
(With agency inputs)