15 August target for corona vaccine unrealistic: Scientists body

The Indian Academy of Sciences

Chennai: The Indian Academy of Sciences (IASc) has said the Indian Council for Medical Research’s (ICMR) target to launch a coronavirus vaccine by 15 August is unfeasible and unrealistic.

The Bengaluru-based body of scientists said while there is an unquestioned urgent need, vaccine development for use in humans requires scientifically executed clinical trials in a phased manner.

In a statement, it said while administrative approvals can be expedited, the scientific processes of experimentation and data collection have a natural time span that cannot be hastened without compromising standards of scientific rigour.

It referred to the ICMR’s letter which states that “it is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials”.

According to the statement, IASc welcomes the exciting development of a candidate vaccine and wishes that the vaccine is quickly made available for public use.

It added: “However, as a body of scientists including many who are engaged in vaccine development IASc strongly believes that the announced timeline is unfeasible. This timeline has raised unrealistic hope and expectations in the minds of our citizens.”

The ICMR and Bharat Biotech India Limited, a private pharmaceutical company, are jointly developing the vaccine against the novel coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2.

Aiming to launch an indigenous Covid-19 vaccine by August 15, the ICMR had written to select medical institutions and hospitals to fast-track clinical trial approvals for the vaccine candidate, COVAXIN.

IASc said trials for a vaccine 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.

 

NT Bureau