Amid the uproar over the deadline of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Modi government's Press Information Bureau (PIB) has made yet another blunder.
In its press release, it had earlier mentioned that “None of these vaccines are unlikely to be ready for mass use before 2021.”
However, interestingly, PIB has withdrawn its statement and went on to delete the statement from its press release.
Earlier, as experts cautioned against rushing the process for developing a COVID-19 vaccine after the ICMR stated it plans to launch one by August 15, the apex health research body on Saturday stressed that it is acting in accordance with the globally accepted norms to fast-track vaccine development for diseases of pandemic potential.
The medical body said that it is supporting the candidate as it appeared to be promising and after all the approvals. ICMR said, "After intense characterization and review of all data from BBIL, ICMR is supporting the clinical development as the vaccine candidate appears to be promising. Based on in-depth scrutiny of the available data from pre-clinical studies, the Drugs Controller General of India has accorded permission to conduct phase 1 and 2 clinical trials."
In its letter to principal investigators of the 12 sites, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava noted that the clinical trial of Covaxin is one of the "top priority projects which is being monitored at the top-most level of the government".
"It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by August 15 after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL is working expeditiously to meet the target, however, final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project," Bhargava said in the letter.
However, it is not clear how the clinical trials can be completed and the vaccine released on August 15 when the normal period for a vaccine to be approved is 12 to 18 months.
Anant Bhan, of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, questioned the timeline of the announcement.
"To my knowledge, such an accelerated development pathway has not been done EVER for any kind of vaccine, even for the ones being tried out in other countries. Even with accelerated timelines, this seems really rushed, and hence with potential risks, inadequate attention to process," Bhan wrote in a series of tweets.