Foreign ministry to fly over 60 foreign envoys to Hyderabad for Covid vaccine briefing

The diplomats will be taken to the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and Biological E for an interaction with scientists on the Covid-19 vaccine
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Shishir Gupta
UPDATED ON DEC 08, 2020 07:28 PM IST
FILE PHOTO: An employee in personal protective equipment (PPE) removes vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from a visual inspection machine inside a lab at Serum Institute of India, Pune, India, November 30, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo(REUTERS)

The Centre will tomorrow fly more than 60 heads of foreign missions to Bharat Biotech and Biological E the two biotech companies that are working on a Covid-19 vaccine, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. The envoys would be briefed about the progress made by scientists who are working on the vaccine.

Bharat Biotech is among the three companies to have sought emergency authorisation from the government for use of the Covid vaccine. The Serum Institute of India and Pfizer India are the other two.

Bharat Biotech, which has developed an Indian vaccine in collaboration with government’s National Institute of Virology, is at present in phase III trials, with over 25,000 volunteers. It uses an inactivated virus to elicit an immune response in people.

The foreign ministry had earlier proposed to include Pune-based Serum Institute of India in the itinerary but later dropped the idea.

The foreign ministry had last month briefed diplomats from 190 countries and international organisations about the steps taken by India to control the disease. It had then promised to organise visits to institutions engaged in Covid-19 related research and vaccine development programmes.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters that a decision on the approval request for the three vaccines could be taken in a few weeks.

In all, six vaccines including Biological E.are in trial stages.

Biological E, one of the two companies to interact with the diplomats, is among the six vaccine candidates that are in trial stages in India. Biological E has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

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