Senior health officials have said a COVID-19 vaccine will take at least two years to develop even with expedited clinical trials and approvals. The virus has affected 74 people in the country, including 17 foreign nationals (16 Italians and a Canadian).
Raman. R. Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases-I (ECD-I), Division of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said Indian scientists have managed to “successfully isolate the COVID-19 virus. This is needed for making a vaccine. There are two ways of going for vaccine preparation — either you look at the sequences of the gene which then may lead to development of antibodies, or you actually have the strain and then you try to develop a vaccine which is always an easier option,” he said.
Dr. Gangakhedkar said the COVID-19 virus is difficult to isolate.
“But the efforts of Indian scientists have been successful and about 11 isolates are available which is a prime requisite for doing any kind of research related to viruses,” he said.
He cautioned that in certain viruses even if vaccines are given, when the infection tends to occur, there could be a flare-up and the severity of the infection is likely to increase. “This is an evolving virus and we are still learning about it. We would say right now we must try to prevent it as much as possible, contain it and wait for things to happen.’’
Asked if high temperature kills the virus, a senior health officials said there is no study or evidence to suggest that.
He said those avoiding quarantine are not only risking their life but also that of the loved ones in their family. The ICMR will start surveillance to examine whether any infected person has been left undetected.
“So far there is no evidence that we are missing any cases,’’ he said.