Scientists from the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan told a parliamentary standing committee on Friday that a vaccine for the coronavirus could be expected only by early next year, PTI reported.

This contradicts the Indian Council of Medical Research’s order to clinical trial sites to fast track the development of the vaccine to August 15. ICMR’s directive had sparked much criticism, with some scientists and health experts calling the deadline unreasonable and absurd.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Climate
is chaired by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. Only six out of the 30 members of the committee attended its meeting on Friday to discuss the government’s preparedness to handle the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramesh had written to Vice President Venkaiah Naidu thrice over the past three months, requesting that the panel be allowed to meet virtually, The Indian Express reported. Friday’s was the first meeting of the panel since the Centre imposed a complete lockdown on March 25 to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our standing committee did not have a quorum today, but it certainly had decorum,” Ramesh said after the meeting. “I thank all fellow committee members across party lines who attended the meeting under tough circumstances and the officials who enriched the process. Our democracy is strengthened by such interactions.”

Naidu said he hoped that the standing committees that have been permitted to convene will examine important matters within their domains. “I am glad that Dept. Related Parliamentary Standing Committees have resumed functioning, three and half months since the last sitting of Parliament on March 23rd,” he tweeted. “All possible measures were taken to enable committees’ meetings by complying with the norms of social distancing, wearing of masks etc...”

India on Friday registered a record single-day increase of 26,506 new cases, pushing the country’s tally to 7,93,802, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The toll in the country stood at 21,604 with 475 new fatalities. More than 4.95 lakh people have recovered.

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