ICMR ‘clarifies’ that 15 August was not a deadline for COVAXIN

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On July 3, the ICMR’s Director Balram Bhargav wrote a letter to Bharat Biotech stating fast-track trials of COVID-19 vaccine- Covaxin, setting up a deadline for its launch i.e. August 15. The news stirred the science industry as it appeared nearly impossible to rush through the process to meet the deadline. On Sunday, July 5, ICMR ‘clarified’ that it has set no deadline for COVID-19 vaccine; the aim was to deliver a message about the urgency of vaccine requirement, it said.

Bharat Biotech got a nod on June 30, for clinical human trials of the COVID-19 vaccine that it developed jointly with ICMR and NIV. The vaccine was supposed to hit markets by late October after going through all the trial procedures and formalities. After receiving the letter from ICMR for rushing the process and launching the vaccine by August 15, scientists found the timeline unrealistic and believed that this would compromise with the quality of the product.

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However, ICMR now clarifies that it has set no deadline for the vaccine. The idea is to conduct clinical trials as quickly as possible, given the urgency and uncertainty of the global pandemic, it stated. As reported by The Mint, “Our internal communication is being misinterpreted. We only said that we envisage having a vaccine by 15 August and it is not a deadline. We have not said that we will launch a vaccine by then. The process can be expedited but the vaccine still will have to undergo all safety clinical trials”, it said.
Adding on, the Ministry of Science and Technology on Sunday clarified that none of the coronavirus vaccine candidates, including India’s Covaxin, are likely to be ready for public use before 2021.

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