The ethics committee of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi on Saturday gave the institute the approval to start human trials of Covaxin, the first indigenous vaccine against the coronavirus, PTI reported. AIIMS will begin enrollment volunteers for the trials from Monday.

Dr Sanjay Rai, professor at the Centre for Community Medicine at AIIMS, said that people between the age group 18 and 55 and without a history of coronavirus and other co-morbid health conditions will be eligible to volunteer for the trial. “Few volunteers have already registered for the trial,” he said. “We would start the screening of the individuals and evaluate their health condition from Monday onwards.”

AIIMS has also set up an email address and a phone number where people can register to volunteer for the trial.

AIIMS Delhi is among the 12 facilities chosen by the Indian Council for Medical Research for the first two phases of Covaxin trials. In the first phase, the vaccine will be tested on 375 volunteers, of which 100 will be from AIIMS. According to The Indian Express, AIIMS Patna and Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Rohtak have already begun clinical trials of the vaccine.

Covaxin was the first indigenous vaccine to get permission for human trials by the Drug Controller General of India, on June 29. It has been jointly developed by a Hyderabad-based private firm Bharat Biotech, the Indian Council for Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.

Last month, ICMR had directed trial sites for Covaxin to fast-track necessary approvals and said that it planned to launch the vaccine for public use by August 15. The top medical body’s deadline was called unrealistic and unscientific by health experts. ICMR had defended its deadline, saying that it was in accordance with global norms to fast-track vaccine development.

Also read: Coronavirus: ICMR defends August 15 deadline for vaccine, says it’s ‘following accepted norms’

India’s second vaccine candidate – Gujarat-based pharmaceutical giant Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV – also entered the human trials stage earlier this week. The clinical trials of ZyCoV will be conducted across multiple sites in India with over 1,000 subjects.

The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 10,77,618 on Sunday with a record 38,902 new infections. More than 26,000 people in the country have died from the coronavirus while over 6.7 lakh have recovered.

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