India plans to introduce, by 15 August, the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, with the ICMR writing to the heads of clinical trial sites on Friday to speed up the registration of subjects and finish the procedure by 7 July. In a letter to hospital heads where the vaccine — developed jointly by Bharat Biotech and ICMR — is to be tested, ICMR DG Balram Bhargava said that the first COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be released before 15 August, for which all approvals must be followed up quickly.
“ICMR has partnered with Bharat Biotech International Limited to fast track clinical trials of the indigenous COVID 19 vaccine being called BBV152 COVID vaccine. This is the first indigenous vaccine of India and is a top priority project for the government being monitored at the highest level. It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public use latest by August 15 after completing the clinical trials. Bharat Biotech is working expeditiously to meet the targets but the final outcome would depend on the cooperation of clinical trial sites,” Bhargava wrote in his letter to heads of King George College, Vishakapatnam, G Arjuna; Pt BD Sharma PGIMS University of Health Sciences, Rohtak, Rohtash Yadav and AIIMS New Delhi Director Randeep Guleria among others.
“You are advised to fast track all approvals needed for the initiation of clinical trials and ensure that subject enrolment is initiated not later than July 7,” ICMR letter says.
It also alerts against non-compliance by clinical trial sites claiming that they should be narrowly treated. A strain isolated at the ICMR National Institute it Virology Pune is used to produce the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine.