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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) plans to launch an indigenous vaccine for COVID-19 by August 15 after the completion of the clinical trials.

The Assam Kaziranga University admissions

ICMR has selected 13 institutions across the country for clinical trials and asked them to initiate subject enrollment by July 7.

ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava, in a letter to the heads of the selected institutions, informed them that it has partnered with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) to fast-track clinical trials of the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine (BBV152 COVID vaccine).

It noted that this is the first indigenous vaccine being developed by India and is one of the top priority projects which is being monitored at the topmost level of the government. “The vaccine is being derived from a strain of SARS-CoV-2 isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and BBIL are jointly working for the preclinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine,” he wrote.

“It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL is working expeditiously to meet the target, however the final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project,” reads the letter dated July 2.

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Informing the institutions of their selection as clinical trials sites for the vaccine, the IMCR director general strictly advised them to fast track all approvals related to initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrollment is initiated no later July 7, 2020.

“Kindly note that non-compliance will be viewed very seriously. Therefore, you are advised to treat this project on highest priority and meet the given timelines without any lapse,” he added.

The list of institutions involved in vaccine trials include Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad; King George Hospital, Visakhapatnam; University of Health Sciences, Rohtak; All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi and AIIMS Patna.

Meanwhile, several experts said that the timeline is practically impossible to achieve.

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