Coronavirus Vaccine by August 15: ICMR issues clarification over deadline backlash
New Delhi : The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday issued a clarification saying safety of Indians is the topmost priority after it received a backlash over a memo that asked labs to fast-track the human trials and deliver the vaccine by August 15.
A letter sent earlier this week by the chief of ICMR said they are planning to launch the vaccine by Independence Day. The opposition parties slammed the call and claimed that this was being done with a motive to give PM a political boost.
The letter by ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava that asked doctors in 12 hospitals to "fast track" clinical trials also stumped some doctors and researchers, who said it was unrealistic to set a six-week deadline for a candidate vaccine whose safety and efficacy trials have not even started.
Defending their statement, ICMR on Saturday said, "The letter by DG-ICMR to investigators of the clinical trial sites was meant to cut unnecessary red tape, without bypassing any necessary process, and speed up recruitment of participants."
"Just as red tape was not allowed to become a hindrance in the fast track approval of new indigenous testing kits or for introducing in the Indian market potential COVID-19 related drugs, the indigenous vaccine development process has also been sought to be insulated from slow file movement. The aim is to complete these phases at the earliest, so that population-based trials for efficacy could be initiated without delay," it said.
"ICMR's process is exactly in accordance with the globally accepted norms to fast-track the vaccine development for diseases of pandemic potential wherein human and animal trials can continue in parallel," the agency said.