'Human trials for COVID-19 vaccine may begin in at least 6 months'

IANS
Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Dr. Rajni Kant, Director Regional Medical Research Centre and Head at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said, "The virus strain isolated at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) laboratory in Pune will be used to develop the vaccine, and this strain has been successfully transferred to the Bharat Biotech International Ltd. (BBIL). It is expected that the human trials of the vaccine will begin in at least six months."

New Delhi: As India ranked 10th in the global infection list, overtaking Iran, which was an early hotspot of coronavirus, India's top medical body has said the human trials of COVID-19 vaccine may begin at least in six months.

Speaking to IANS, Dr. Rajni Kant, Director Regional Medical Research Centre and Head at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said, "The virus strain isolated at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) laboratory in Pune will be used to develop the vaccine, and this strain has been successfully transferred to the Bharat Biotech International Ltd. (BBIL). It is expected that the human trials of the vaccine will begin in at least six months."

Queried on the focus areas as India inches closer to 1.4 lakh COVID-19 cases, Kant said we should not get anxious about the rapid increase in numbers, especially in the past week, which saw 5,000 Covid-19 cases daily, instead focus on protecting the most vulnerable group.

"We should not fear from increasing Covid-19 cases. The elderly and people with comorbidities need protection. This is the highly vulnerable group, and we need to deploy resources and develop strategies to keep the mortality rate as low as possible in this group," said Kant.

Initially, it was assumed that the country would require thousands of ventilators, but last week, the health ministry said only 0.45 per cent of COVID-19 cases need ventilator support.

Kant insisted the focus should be on five per cent to 10 per cent serious patients. "We are testing more than one lakh daily and our case fatality rate is already one of the lowest in the world. In absence of vaccine, people should follow social distancing guidelines," he added

On the significance of the recovery rate, Kant said the increasing recovery rate of the COVID-19 patients, which is at 41 per cent, is a bright spot in India's fight against deadly viral infection.

Queried on large scale COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad, Kant said the population density in these regions is very high, which proves to be the just right environment for the viral infection.

He insisted on developing robust cluster management strategies in the hard-hit coronavirus spots, and the movement of people should be curtailed in these areas.

"Currently, a lot of people are moving around easily and avoiding social distancing norms. The first phase of the lockdown was very effective, but now things have changed," added Kant.

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