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Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to start clinical trials of nasal COVID-19 vaccines

Joe C Mathew     October 18, 2020

Vaccine makers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are expected to start clinical trials of intranasal COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister has said.

In his weekly social media interaction Sunday Samvaad, the minister said that while there are no intranasal COVID-19 vaccines under trial in India at the moment, the two companies will pursue clinical trials of such vaccines in India in the coming months on receipt of regulatory approval.

On the ongoing clinical trials, Dr Vardhan said the Phase III clinical trials will generally see thousands of volunteer enrolments, even close to 30,000 to 40,000 participants. The minister also informed that the health ministry has already released Rs 1,352 crore as the Phase II of the COVID package to 33 states and Union Territories during August-October period.

Harsh Vardhan assured that there is no shortage of medical oxygen. The current oxygen production capacity of India is around 6400 MT/ day and  the government is ready to scale up the production capacity in order to meet further increase in demand arising due to the pandemic, he said. According to the minister, the government has delivered 1,02,400 medical oxygen cylinders to states and UTs while its agency - the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority - has fixed  the price of liquid medical oxygen. Guidelines on 'Rational use of Oxygen for management of COVID-19' have also been issued, he added. Further, the Ministry of Health is monitoring the availability and supply of medical oxygen at the field level through regular VC with state nodal officers for oxygen as well as with Principal Secretaries or Mission Directors, he added.

Answering a question on the discrepancy in the number of COVID-19 deaths across India, Dr Vardhan said his ministry has taken up the issue of correct certification of COVID-19 deaths with all states and UTs on multiple instances and has also shared the proper modality of reporting of deaths with them to ensure consistency in reporting of COVID-19 related deaths across India.

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