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Millennium Post

'Will take one-and-a-half to two years for India to develop vaccine

New Delhi: Mar 12 (PTI) Senior health ministry officials said on Thursday that it will take around one-and-a-half to two years for India to develop a vaccine for novel coronavirus even with expedited clinical trials.

The novel coronavirus has affected 73 people in the country, including 17 foreign nationals.

The 17 affected foreign nationals include 16 Italians and a Canadian patient.

Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases-I (ECD-I), Division of ICMR said the National Institute of Virology in Pune has been successful in isolating the virus.

"There are two ways of going for vaccine preparation. One is 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.

"Coronavirus is difficult to isolate. But the efforts of scientists of National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune have been successful and about 11 isolates of coronavirus are available which is a prime requisite for doing any kind of research related to viruses. Even with expedited clinical trials and approvals, it will take around one-and-a-half to two years to develop a vaccine," Gangakhedkar asserted.

The official said the Indian government has made 52 laboratories functional for testing samples, while 57 labs have been designated for helping in sample collection for COVID-19 to enhance capacity for diagnosis and detection of the disease.

"We have around 1 lakh testing kits and additional kits have been ordered," another health ministry official said.

The health ministry on Thursday asked people not to panic in the wake of increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country saying the focus is on preventive approach and there are adequate facilities available for testing.

It said there is no instance of any community transmission, adding there has been only local transmission.

Meanwhile, the government's focus is on containing and controlling coronavirus the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday and advised Indians to stay put wherever they are and travel only under compelling reasons.

Responding to questions about IPL and other sporting events, it said the MEA's advise would be "not do it at this time but if the organisers want to go ahead, it is their decision".

"The government's immediate concern is to contain and control coronavirus. There is no need to panic. We advise Indians to stay put wherever they are and only travel under compelling reasons," Dammu Ravi, Additional Secretary, MEA and Coordinator (COVID-19), said at a press conference.

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