A top ICMR official told a parliamentary panel that phase-two clinical trials of two indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine candidates have almost been completed and emergency authorisation of a vaccine could be considered if the Centre decides so.
Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) informed members of the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs that the vaccine candidates developed by Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila and the Serum Institute of India are at different stages of trials, said an MP present in the meeting.
The COVID-19 vaccine candidates coordinated by Bharat Biotech and Cadila are nearing completion of phase-two trails.
The one being handled by the Serum Institute of India and developed by Oxford University will enter phase-2 (b) trials this weekend for which 1,700 patients have been identified at 17 centres across the country, the MP said.
According to MPs who attended the meeting, when asked how long people will have to live with the pandemic, Bhargava replied that normally the final trial takes about six to nine months but if the government decides, an emergency authorisation could be considered.
Responding to queries by the panel about the saliva test cleared by FDA in the US for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2, Bhargava said informed that taking samples from gargled water is already under consideration and further details will be available soon, said another MP.
Members of the parliamentary committee cutting across party lines complemented the ICMR in particular and the medical fraternity in general for their committed role in fighting the pandemic.
The committee members expressed concern over the stigmatisation of infected people both by kin and neighbours.
About the mental stress among the people due to the pandemic, ICMR agreed to the panel members’ suggestion of reviewing the existing limited set of guidelines relating to the management of psychological stress, an MP in the panel said.
ICMR also told the committee that it may soon come out with comprehensive revised guidelines so as to help all the concerned to cope with the stress caused by the outbreak of the viral disease.
The meeting, chaired by senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma, lasted for over four hours and discussed various aspects of management of the COVID-19 pandemic and also its impact on the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector.
(Edits by EP News Bureau)