A letter from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) claiming to launch the first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine is doing the rounds on social media. The letter claims that the vaccine will be made available to the public on August 15.
ICMR in the letter said, "This is to bring to your kind attention that ICMR has partnered with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) to fast-track clinical trials of the indegenous COVID-19 vaccine (BBV152 COVID Vaccine)."
"This the first indigenous vaccine being developed in India and is one of the top priority projects which is being monitored at the top-most level of the Government. The vaccine is derived from a strain of SARS CoV-2 isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and BBIL are jointly working for the pre-clinical trial sites involved in the project," the letter reads.
It further adds, "It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials."
Meanwhile, this ICMR letter isn't fake. However, the top biomedical research agency has clarified that their "internal communication is being misinterpreted".
"We only said that we envisage to have a vaccine by 15 August and it is not a deadline. We have not said that we will launch a vaccine by then. The process can be expedited but the vaccine still will have to undergo all safety clinical trials," an ICMR official told Livemint.
Speaking to The Week, Bharat Biotech founder Dr Krishna Ella said that it is too early to launch the 'injectable' vaccine. He said, "It is too early to remark on this, as we are in the beginning phase of human trials. Only after the safety data is established and upon receiving regulatory approvals will we be able to decide to move into the course of licensure."
Reportedly, the Hyderabad-based company has completed the phase 1 in trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.