The ICMR will conduct a study to identify the effectiveness of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine against Covid-19, as per the Union Health Ministry officials. It may be noted that it is administered against tuberculosis immediately after the birth of an infant.
ICMR also said that soon it will reach the testing capacity of 100,000. "The daily Covid-19 testing capacity at various laboratories in the country is being increased and is expected to reach to 1 lakh test per day by May 31," it said.
Accordingly, a total of 16 regional depots are being set up and are modelled into self-contained units by strengthening manpower, resources and infrastructure. Besides these, depots at the National Institute of Malaria Research here and the National Institute of Virology in Pune would also function as central depots.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday asserted that doubling rate of Covid-19 cases has increased from three days before imposition of lockdown in March to 9.7 days now.
"The rate of growth of new cases has been steadying for a while. As per the data received today by 8 a.m., over the past seven days, the doubling rate is 7.2 days, for the past 14 days it is 6.2, and over past 3 days it stands at 9.7. Before the lockdown, India's doubling rate was about 3 days," Harsh Vardhan said.
The Health Minister said that the doubling rate is lower despite the fact that number of tests done every day have increased by almost 14 times.
99 institutes willing to take part in clinical trial of plasma therapy for COVID-19 treatment: ICMR
ICMR has received 99 applications from institutes expressing interest in participating in a randomised controlled study to assess the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma to limit complications associated with Covid-19.
"ICMR launched the call for intent for the study titled 'A Phase II, Open Label, Randomized Controlled Study to Assess the Safety and Efficacy of Convalescent Plasma to Limit COVID19 Associated Complications' on April 12, 2020.
"The response has been overwhelming and we have received 99 applications expressing their interest in participating in the study. The generic protocol has been approved by the Drug Controller General India (DCGI)," ICMR said while also making public the approval letter," the council said.
It added that each institute that wished to participate in the study would need to mandatorily obtain ethics clearance locally, through their Institutional Ethics Committee.
"ICMR will collaborate with eligible institutes from the pool of applicants based on the criteria - prior experience in conducting clinical studies, presence of necessary expertise, equipment and infrastructure for the study, ability to support the cost of care of study participants, Institutional Ethics Committee registered with the CDSCO and each participating institute will have to buy trial insurance and ICMR will reimburse the premium costs as per rules," the ICMR said.
Eligible institutes will be funded by ICMR for study-related activities after completion of requisite documentation, it said.
Convalescent plasma is an experimental procedure for Covid-19 patients. As per the guidelines, hospitals and institutions planning to provide this modality of treatment should do so in a clinical trial with protocols which are cleared by the Institutional Ethics Committee.
At this moment, the ICMR does not recommend this as a treatment option outside of clinical trials.