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Health ministry sets up task force to work on vaccines, drug testing related to COVID-19

PTI, Apr 19, 2020, 8:02 PM IST

New Delhi: A high-level task force has been set up to work on frontiers of science related to vaccines and drug testing to fight coronavirus, the Union health ministry said on Sunday.

Addressing a media briefing here, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, health ministry, said NITI Aayog member and principal scientific advisor to the government will be co-chair of the task force.

“Besides AYUSH, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Department of Science and Technology, Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), DG Health Services and Drug Controller will also be the members of the task force, he said.

The senior official asserted that the task force aims to enable and speed up the industry and international efforts being made to fight COVID-19.

“The objective of this task force is academia, and to enable and speed up industry and international efforts for COVID-19, he said.

“The Department of Biotechnology has been made a central coordination agency to identify pathways for vaccine development. We will make a dynamic list of national and international efforts for vaccine development and monitor the progress and provide required facilitation at government level,” Agarwal said.

The ministry also said that the task force will work on clinical cohorts, which will be focusing on long-term follow up of people for having better understanding of the disease and its management.

“We will also collect bio-specimens for further vaccine and drug trials. This will be separate from sample testing work,” Agarwal added.

The health ministry said 1,334 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported since Saturday with 27 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The total COVID-19 cases in the country stand at 15,712 and deaths at 507. As many as 2,231 COVID-19 patients, which is around 14.19 per cent, have been cured, Agarwal said.

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