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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has on Saturday partnered with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) for developing indigenous COVID-19 vaccine using the virus strain isolated at ICMR's National Institute of Virology (NIV), located in Pune.

"The strain has been successfully transferred from NIV to Bharat Biotech International Ltd. (BBIL). Work on vaccine development has been initiated between the two partners. ICMR-NIV will provide continuous support to BBIL for vaccine development. ICMR and BBIL will seek fast-track approval to expedite vaccine development, subsequent animal studies and clinical evaluation of the candidate vaccine," read the press release.

Earlier on Thursday, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) had said that it needed more scientific data to go ahead with Jal Shakti Ministry's proposal to undertake clinical studies for treatment of COVID-19 patients with Ganga water.

Dr Y K Gupta, who is chairing the committee for Evaluation of Research Proposals at ICMR, said the evidence and data available at the moment is not strong enough to start the clinical studies by different routes/forms of Ganga water for treatment of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, in its most recent update, the Union Health Ministry said the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country 59,662 and the death toll is 1,981. The Ministry said also that 17,847 people have so far recovered from the infection.

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