Bhubaneswar: The Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, faculty of medical sciences of the SOA Deemed to be University here, has been chosen by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for undertaking human clinical trials of India’s first Covid-19 vaccine. IMS and SUM Hospital, which is the only medical institute in Odisha to be chosen as a clinical trial site for the much awaited vaccine, is also among four such institutions in the state which will undertake convalescent plasma therapy for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. The ICMR has advised it to fast track all approvals related to the initiation of the clinical trial of the vaccine in view of the public health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Prof. E.Venkat Rao, Professor, Community Medicine, in the hospital will be the Principal Investigator. This is the first indigenous vaccine being developed by India and is derived from a strain of SARSCoV-2 isolated by ICMR National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and Bharat Biotech are jointly working for the preclinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine. It has already received the approval for Phase-I and Phase-II human trials by the Drug Controller General of India. IMS and SUM Hospital, a 1600-bed teaching hospital with 40 departments, is among 13 medical institutes in the country identified by ICMR to take up the clinical trial. The trial will commence after approval of the Institutional Ethical Committee (IEC) of the hospital. Convalescent plasma therapy involves the use of antibodies from the blood of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 to treat other infected persons. Dr. Chandan Das, Professor in Medicine, will be in charge of the convalescent
plasma therapy in the hospital.

“We have the required equipment and trained manpower to commence convalescent plasma therapy in our hospital immediately. We have the Post-Graduate Department of Transfusion Medicine recognized by the Medical Council of India,” Dr. Girija Nandini Kanungo, Associate Professor in the Department of Transfusion Medicine, said.

The institute is presently operating three stand-alone Covid-19 hospitals in the state at Bhubaneswar, Kendrapara and Talcher where patients afflicted by coronavirus are being treated. The decision to commence convalescent plasma therapy in the state was taken at a high-level meeting today chaired by Odisha’s minister for health and family welfare, Mr. Naba Kishore Das which was attended, among others, by the SOA Vice-Chancellor Prof. (Dr.) Ashok Kumar Mohapatra.