Coronavirus vaccine won’t be available until at least next year, government officials told the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology on Friday amid a global race of scientists and researchers to fight against the pandemic.
In a note to researchers earlier this month, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) set an ambitious goal for vaccine development by August 15, surprising experts and arousing outrage of the opposition who declared that this decision was intended to help the Prime Minister. Narendra Modi’s government scores political points.
Later, the country’s main clinical research agency said the letter was “intended to reduce unnecessary red tape, without bypassing any necessary process and to speed up the recruitment of participants.”
Government advisers and officials told lawmakers in parliament at a legislators’ panel meeting on Friday that India, a major producer of vaccines and generic drugs, should play a key role in the race world.
“Almost 60% of the world‘s vaccines are developed in India, so we hope that India will lead the way in finding or manufacturing the vaccine,” said a senior government official at the meeting.
Senior officials from the Department of Biotechnology, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Scientific and Industrial Research Council, and the government’s chief scientific advisor, K Vijay Raghavan, were among those asked to brief the committee.
While some members questioned the effectiveness of Patanjali Ayurved’s Swasari Coronil kit by yoga teacher Ramdev, which was controversially launched as a treatment for coronaviruses, the scientific community did not respond.
The first human clinical trials for vaccine candidates under development in India are expected to start on Monday, but the Ministry of Science and Technology said last week that, although 11 of the 140 vaccine candidates against Coronaviruses worldwide have been tested in humans, “none of these be ready for mass use before 2021”. This line has been edited in a revised version of the statement.