Latest coronavirus vaccine update: Ministry says vaccine unlikely before 2021, backtracks later
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In yet another flip-flop on the Covid-19 vaccine, the Ministry of Science and Technology amended a press release issued by it on Sunday, minutes after it was uploaded on the Press Information Bureau website.

The Ministry of Science and Technology amended the press release to remove its statement that "a vaccine is unlikely to be ready for mass use before 2021".

The press release earlier stated that along with the two Indian vaccines -- Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- 11 out of 140 vaccine candidates have entered human trials across the world and added that ‘neither of these is likely to be ready for mass use before 2021’.

Within minutes, this concluding part of the statement had been removed.

Curiously, India's apex medical body, the ICMR, had said on Friday that it aims to flag off the world's first Covid-19 vaccine, the indigenously developed Covaxin, by August 15. But the next day sceptics questioned the timeline, saying that it may not be realistic. They also raised ethical and safety concerns over fast-tracking of the vaccine.

On Sunday, going into overdrive and sounding unduly optimistic, the ministry stated that approval for human clinical trials for the two made-in-India COVID-19 vaccines marks the "beginning of the end" for the pandemic.

The ministry also said that manufacturers of two of the leading candidates - AZD1222 (British firm AstraZeneca) and MRNA-1273 (US-based Moderna) - had signed production agreements with Indian companies, should their vaccines prove safe and effective. Both have been approved for Phase II and III trials. The first two phases involve trials for safety, while the third tests the medicine's efficacy. Each phase can take months, or even years, to be completed.

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