Coronavirus | India does not have the numbers to participate in WHO clinical trial, says ICMR

Medical personnel wait at a drive-through coronavirus (COVID-19) testing station, in Seattle.

Medical personnel wait at a drive-through coronavirus (COVID-19) testing station, in Seattle.   | Photo Credit: AP

Govt. prioritises inventory of protective gear, hand sanitisers

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body for bio-medical research, has said that India will not participate in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) clinical trials for coronavirus (COVID-19) as of now because the country has a very small sample size.

State Helpline numbers for COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

“There is no forward movement on this as we cannot contribute favourably. The numbers that we can offer WHO is extremely limited as India is still witnessing local transmission. Of course, there is nothing stopping us from joining the trial later on, if the country does witness a rise in COVID-19 numbers,” said Dr. R. Gangakhedkar, head, Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases-I (ECD-I).


He added, “The countries participating currently — in the five-arm clinical trial looking at drugs, treatment approach, vaccine etc., — have a larger scope than India. We can always enrol later.”

According to the WHO, so far, no vaccine against COVID-19 has completed clinical trials, and a vaccine is not likely to be available over the next 18 months.

Supplies monitored

Meanwhile, the Department of Pharmaceuticals has issued a “warning” to manufacturers and importers of surgical and protective masks, and gloves and hand sanitisers, directing them to immediately furnish information on stocks of personal protection equipment.

“Non-compliance of the order would attract penal provision of the DPCO [Drugs (Prices Control) Order], 2013 and the Essential Commodities Act, 1995 which may lead to search and seizure and even prosecution for defaulting companies. All manufactures/importers are hereby directed to submit the requisite details in prescribed format failing which National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) would be constrained to take appropriate action,” the direction noted.

Prevent hoarding

The Central government had declared face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities for the next 100 days as it stepped up efforts to boost supply and prevent hoarding of these items in its fight to check the spread of the coronavirus. The Centre has also invoked the Disaster Management Act to ensure price regulation and availability of surgical and protective masks, hand sanitisers and gloves.

“The decision is aimed to empower the government and States and Union Territories to regulate production, quality and distribution of masks and hand sanitisers for their smooth sale and availability. It also empowers to carry out operations against speculators and those involved in over-pricing and black-marketing,” the government had noted.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 11:42:52 PM |

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