Visakhapatnam: The first vaccine trial centre for COVID-19 for the two Telugu states (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) was launched in Vizag on Saturday. As part of 'Mission Covid Suraksha', the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) sanctioned one COVID-19 vaccine trial centre to Andhra Medical College (AMC) in Vizag.

Minister for Tourism, M. Srinivasa Rao inaugurated the trial centre. It may be recalled that AMC in Vizag is one of the 19 clinical trial sites and the only one in AP and TS to be chosen for the project. AMC will receive Rs 1.8 crore funding for the project.

Principal of AMC and special officer for COVID-19 for North Andhra Pradesh Dr P.V. Sudhakar said that the department has established 'Mission Covid Suraksha' to ensure a steady supply of vaccines in the next year. We have been recruited 17 staff members for AMC's vaccine trial centre. The centre has been set up at the rural health training centre at Simhachalam, he added.

Dr Sudhakar said the future COVID-19 vaccine research work would be entrusted to these 19 clinical trial sites across the country. The major objectives of this vaccine trial centre are capacity building, volunteer database development, clinical trial conduct etc. The duration of the project is one year, he added

AMC department of community medicine head Dr B. Devi Madhavi would act as the principal investigator. Dr Sudhakar, Dr Sunita Sreegiri (community medicine), Dr V. Durga Prasad (community medicine), Dr Y. Gayatri, (pulmonology), and Dr L. Siva Kumar (community medicine) would serve as the co-investigators of the project apart from the 17 staff members.

As per the 'Mission Covid Suraksha' guidelines, the clinical trial sites should be ready for signing service agreements with vaccine manufacturers for the conduct of clinical trials. The sites are also expected to provide service to multiple vaccine developers. The data generated as an outcome of this grant should comply with the guidelines and be suitable for submission to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation for seeking relevant approvals.

King George Hospital (KGH) - Andhra Medical College (AMC) was chosen by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for undertaking human clinical trials of Covaxin last year. KGH, Visakhapatnam, was the only institute from Andhra Pradesh to make it to the list of 12 medical institutes chosen by the ICMR as clinical trial sites for the vaccine.

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