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Scientists scoff at Indian agency's plan to have COVID-19 vaccine ready for use next month

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

NEW DELHI—The apparent speed at which an Indian government agency aims to test and approve a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine has created an uproar among scientists both in India, which is increasingly overwhelmed by the new coronavirus, and abroad. A letter leaked on Twitter on Friday suggests the first vaccines could be rolled out by 15 August, which would leave far too little time for proper testing, critics say. The Indian Academy of Sciences calls the timeline “unreasonable and without precedent.”  

Six Indian companies are developing vaccines against COVID-19. Last week, the Indian government gave two of them, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila, permission to start phase I and II human clinical trials of their most advanced vaccines, named covaxin and ZyCov-D respectively.

For covaxin, Bharat Biotech has joined with the National Institute of Virology, which is part of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). (The company is separately developing COVID-19 vaccine candidates in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.)

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