ICMR defends August 15 deadline for vaccine

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New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research defended its direction to clinical trial sites of Covaxin to fast-track approvals and launch it by August 15.

A letter sent out earlier this week by the chief of India’s top clinical research agency said it “envisaged” launching a novel coronavirus vaccine by Independence Day, prompting accusations by the opposition that the date was set to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government score political points.

This was in accordance with global norms to fast track vaccine development, the top medical body claimed amid criticism that the deadline was unscientific and unrealistic.

Covaxin was the first indigenous vaccine to get permission for human trials by the Drug Controller General of India, on June 29. It has been jointly developed by a Hyderabad-based private firm Bharat Biotech, the Indian Council for Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. The first and second phase of its clinical human trials are scheduled to begin from July.

ICMR said that its letter to the clinical trial sites was meant to cut unnecessary red tape but without skipping the necessary process. The medical body added that the safety and interest of the people would remain its top priority.

The top medical body warned trial sites that any kind of non-compliance to the order will be viewed “very seriously”.

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