Home > News > Covid-19 vaccine unlikely before 2021, House panel told | India News

Covid-19 vaccine unlikely before 2021, House panel told | India News


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NEW DELHI: A global or Indian vaccine for coronavirus will only be ready by 2021, a parliamentary standing committee on science, technology, environment and forests was told on Friday at its first in-person meeting since the countrywide lockdown was announced in March.
The assertion by officials came on the heels of a controversy over an ICMR letter last week that spoke of an August 15 deadline for launch of a vaccine for public health use. The premier agency, however, later clarified that the letter was only meant to “cut unnecessary red tape” and “speed up recruitment of participants”, and not to “bypass any necessary process”.
Though no direct reference was made to the ICMR letter at Friday’s parliamentary panel meeting, principal scientific advisor to the government, K Vijay Raghavan and senior officials of the department of biotechnology (DBT), department of science and technology (DST) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) briefed the committee and assured that India will “either lead in finding a Covid-19 vaccine or in manufacturing it”, since almost 60% of the world’s vaccines are developed in India.
The submissions were part of wider discussions on the role of science and technology in dealing with coronavirus, and the lessons it served for India. Discussions are also understood to have dwelt on manufacturing low cost medical equipment and developing vaccines and drugs that are not dependent on import of intermediaries from China.
With travel restrictions in place, only seven of 30 MPs on the standing committee were able to attend the meeting. Though Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu expressed satisfaction over resumption of regular meetings of department-related standing committees, senior lawmaker and chairman of the panel on science and technology, environment and forests, Jairam Ramesh, insisted that virtual meetings should be permitted to allow better participation.
“I am glad that department-related parliamentary standing committees have resumed functioning, three-and-a-half months since the last sitting of Parliament on March 23,” Naidu said on Twitter.
Responding on Twitter, Ramesh said, “Our parliamentary standing committee is having a most informative and useful meeting with DBT, DST, CSIR and principal scientific advisor on the issue of science and Technology and Covid-19. Too bad we are not allowed to have virtual meetings so that more MPs could have participated.” He urged Naidu to allow virtual meetings of parliamentary panels “given that the House is unlikely to meet for the next month at least”.
Kerala MP Binoy Vishwam, who could not attend the meeting on account of the lockdown in Thiruvananthapuram, told TOI, “While the government talks of Digital India, Parliament is unable to adapt to virtual meetings, now the new normal. At this time, MPs need to be in their constituencies and meetings can as easily be held through the virtual route.”


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