Covaxin, the first possible vaccine against COVID-19, will be tested on a team of around 200 healthy volunteers in and around Belagavi.
The clinical trials are set to be conducted by doctors and staff members of Jeevan Rekha, a multi-speciality hospital here, monitored by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Bharat Biotech International Ltd., the private company that has developed the chemical molecule, doctors at the hospital said.
Jeevan Rekha is one of the 12 hospitals and health centres in the country chosen by the Union government for clinical trials of the vaccine, whose technical name is BBV152 COVID vaccine.
“We are happy to be part of the trial of the first indigenously developed vaccine for this dreaded disease,” said Amit Bhate, director of the hospital. He said ICMR officials have been giving them instructions through online conversations.
He also conveyed that while a vaccine trial usually takes around three months, the COVID-19 vaccine trial was being put on the fast track. The ICMR has announced that the drug could be recommended for general usage after the second week of August. “This time we have been asked to speed up the process. We have been asked to work around the clock, if need be, and release the data as soon as possible,” he said. “We are conducting the trials only on healthy individuals as of now.”
According to Dr. Bhate, the hospital will send out invitations to 150 to 200 volunteers willing to take up injectable doses of the vaccine. “They will be closely observed. The drug’s effects on them will be recorded and shared with ICMR. That will be considered before recommending general usage,” he said.
D. Chattopadhyaya, director of the ICMR NITM laboratory, said, “Vaccine trial is a detailed procedure that has to be done as per the established scientific criteria. It has to include various stages such as pre-clinical studies, animal trials, and two phases of human trials. I hope all these steps are being followed.