Coronavirus | Key ICMR panel on vaccines dissolved

The group was to set up to review evidence and develop concept notes.  

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has dissolved a key committee, which was part of the National COVID-19 Task Force (NTF) and tasked with developing a research protocol, a team and partners for vaccines and drug development.


The NTF’s key responsibility was to create a “India COVID-19 Clinical Research Collaborative Network”.

The group for ‘Vaccines/Drug Research and Development’ — one among five constituted by ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava on April 6 — was to identify ‘research priorities, review evidence and develop concept notes’.

However, these objectives were not met, multiple members of the group confirmed to The Hindu. The group met thrice.

One member told The Hindu that the team was probably constituted to help ICMR gain an overview of potential vaccines, existing capabilities in India and research institutions with expertise in specific areas of drug- and vaccine-development.

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“I don't think it was a statutory committee. There were experts from different institutions such as DBT (Department of Biotechnology) and CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and we gave our views on the strengths and capabilities that existed,” Srivari Chandrasekhar, Director, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, told The Hindu. “From the discussions, ICMR would have got clarity on where they could best invest their expertise and time. A colleague from ICMR was recording deliberations.”

In the last month, the Department of Science and Technology, the DBT and the CSIR have compiled the existing knowledge base on drugs, diagnostics and potential vaccine development pathways.

According to the ICMR website, members of the group included Gangandeep Kang (Chair), Suman Kanungo (National Institute for Cholera and Enteric Diseases- NICED), Bikash Medhi (Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research), S.S. Das (NICED), Debashish Mitra, (Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics), Sarah Cherian (National Insitute of Virology), Sanjay Mehendale (Hinduja hospital) and Niraj Agrawal (ICMR).

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Dr. Mitra told The Hindu that the group was “likely reconstituted” and that he was unaware of further developments. Dr. Kang didn't respond to requests for clarification on whether the terms of reference of the group were achieved. Dr. Bhargava, in response to queries, referred this correspondent to ICMR’s Saturday announcement of the Council partnering with Bharat Biotech International Ltd/ for developing an indigenous potential COVID-19 vaccine.

The other groups constituted as part of the NTF include a clinical research group headed by Dr. Randeep Guleria of AIIMS and on Research on Diagnostics and Biomarkers headed by D.A. Gadkari.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 12:04:52 PM |

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