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Coronavirus vaccine: when will it be ready?

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Human trials will begin imminently – but even if they go well and a cure is found, there are many barriers before global immunisation is feasible

Even at their most effective – and draconian – containment strategies have only slowed the spread of the respiratory disease Covid-19. With the World Health Organization finally declaring a pandemic, all eyes have turned to the prospect of a vaccine, because only a vaccine can prevent people from getting sick.

A source familiar with IIBR activities told Reuters that trials were already under way on rodents. The source declined to identify the kind of rodent.

The Centre is looking at relaxing clinical trial rules in the country temporarily to let pharmaceutical companies attempt to develop a vaccine for the deadly novel coronavirus. The pathogen has killed over 42,000 people across the globe and infected more than 8,00,000 people.

A notification issued by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on March 30 pointed out it would be difficult to adhere to all the protocol and regulations while conducting clinical trials of COVID-19 cures. 

The researchers may have to make some modifications due to unavoidable circumstances. The regulatory body, however, clarified that the rights or safety of the trial subjects would not be compromised in the process.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already shared a list of 44 candidates who would participate in global clinical trials. At present, only two of them are in Phase 1 of clinical trials; the rest are still in the pre-clinical stage.

A vaccine could still save many lives, especially if the virus becomes endemic or perennially circulating – like flu – and there are further, possibly seasonal, outbreaks. But until then, our best hope is to contain the disease as far as possible. To repeat the sage advice: wash your hands.

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