First publised on 2020-07-13 07:38:49
About a week ago, ICMR had come under fire for issuing a directive to hospitals involved in conducting clinical trials for the Covid-19 vaccine that it is jointly developing with Bharat Biotech to "speed up" things so that the vaccine could be launched before August 15, 2020. It was pointed out that it was highly unethical for ICMR to use shortcuts in matters of public health. This magazine had published an article ("Shortcuts will not work for developing a vaccine for coronavirus" on July 6, 2020) that clearly pointed out that using shortcuts will be self-defeating.
Now the truth is out. The lead picture of this article is a graphic by India Today with data sourced from WHO which shows that India stands nowhere in the race for developing the vaccine and both the companies working on it are still in the Pre-Clinical Trial stage of the cycle. It takes a minimum of 9 months to progress from the first phase to the approval stage. The approval can then happen in a matter of days (which is most likely, considering the importance of a Covid-19 vaccine) or it can take months. In either case, a Covid-19 vaccine from India is not likely to be in the market before April 2021.
In today's world, with transparency in public matters and a glut of information from various sources, it is impossible to make exaggerated claims. ICMR should have known that sooner or later, the WHO would publish data on the progress of the development of the Covid-19 vaccine across the world and its bluff would be called out. It should have refrained from rushing things and should have presented a truer picture before the people.
Picture courtesy: India Today Group