New Delhi, July 4: Faced with criticism for setting the ambitious deadline of August 15 for COVID-19 vaccine launch, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued a clarification. The premiere research body said its decision to fast-track the process is in accordance with the global norms and is aimed at "larger public interest". ICMR Fast Tracking COVID-19 Vaccine for PM Modi's Announcement on Independence Day, Alleges Sitaram Yechury.
"ICMR’s process is exactly in accordance with globally accepted norms to fast-track the vaccine development for diseases of pandemic potential wherein human and animal trials can continue in parallel," said a statement issued by the state-run agency.
"In the larger public health interest, it is important for ICMR to expedite clinical trials with a promising indigenous vaccine. Faced with the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, all other vaccine candidates across the globe have been similarly fast-tracked," the ICMR further added.
Read Full Statement Issued by ICMR
In the larger public health interest, it is important for ICMR to expedite clinical trials with a promising indigenous vaccine. Faced with the unprecedented nature of the #COVID19 pandemic, all other vaccine candidates across the globe have been similarly fast-tracked: ICMR https://t.co/gJiGKjZ2ku
— ANI (@ANI) July 4, 2020
The ICMR is developing the indigenous vaccine against coronavirus in coordination with a private pharmaceutical firm - Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL). The vaccine candidate - Covaxin - was earlier estimated by the company to be released by December-end or early 2021.
The ICMR, however, disclosed on Friday that the vaccine trials would be fast-tracked and held simultaneously at around 12 hospitals in the country. All steps would be undertaken to launch the vaccine by August 15 - when India would observe its 73rd Independence Day.
Apart from medical experts, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also raised an alarm over the government's decision. The party claimed that by expediting the development of vaccine, the government may put the lives of scores at risk.
"Scientific advances can never be ‘made to order’. Forcing the development of an indigenous vaccine as a cure for Covid-19, bypassing all health & safety norms, to be announced by PM Modi on Independence Day is fraught with horrendous human costs," CPI(M) secretary general Sitaram Yechury said.