CSIR begins drug trial for vaccine against Covid-19

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The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in an exclusive interaction with The Daily Guardian, has said that drug trial for the vaccine against Covid-19 has started. “As far as I know, the trials have begun at PGIMER, Chandigarh. AIIMS, Bhopal has also obtained the Institutional Ethics Committee’s approval for the trials. I am not sure if AIIMS, New Delhi has started yet, but it will also do the trials,” said CSIR Director General Dr Shekhar C. Mande. What is heartening, though at a very early stage, is that, according to sources, the trial conducted on a few patients has shown positive signs.

“The trials have been started with the Director Controller General of India’s (DCGI) approval, first in PGIMER, Chandigarh and now in AIIMS, Bhopal. But we have to wait for the results and early indication will come in two months’ time, which means 45-60 days later,” said Dr Rama Vishwakarma, Director, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu. Worldwide, 78 trials are going on currently to fight Covid-19. The trials initiated by CSIR will be done in a few stages on 50 patients by PGIMER, Chandigarh, AIIMS, Bhopal and AIIMS, Delhi. Dr Vishwakarma said, “We have approval for 50 patients in the initial stage, which has been started at PGIMER and AIIMS, Bhopal on critical patients.” After the trial on 50 patients, CSIR will start clinical trials on 600 patients. However, on trials being done on patients at PGIMER, Dr Mande said, “It is too early to state the number.

The total number of critically-ill patients is 50. There are two more trials waiting to happen, where the number is much higher.” Trial safety is very important wherein doctors take consent from patients and then only the process begins. Dr Mande reiterated, “Trials are safe, as these have earlier been conducted for gramnegative sepsis.” It is important to know how the Mw drug works to boost the immune system. The Mw vaccine, normally used to treat leprosy, acts through the toll-like receptor pathway and enhances host T-cell response. According to Dr Mande, “Mw is essentially an immune modulator. It enhances the specific immune response against the pathogen, and suppresses the non-specific immune response.” Apart from this, CSIR is also working on many other drugs that are at different stages of development.

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