Coronavirus vaccine: India hopeful of vaccinating 20-25 crore people by July 2021; check details

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October 5, 2020 3:24 PM

Dr Harsh Vardhan also stated that the immunity data on coronavirus is also being scrutinised by the government.

On a global scale, the pre-clinical and clinical trials for as many as 193 candidates are underway.

Coronavirus vaccine: India hoping to vaccinate 20 crore to 25 crore citizens by July next year! Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan, during the fourth edition of his Sunday Samvaad, said that India was hoping to provide vaccine doses to 20-25 crore people by July 2021. The country is hoping to procure as many as 40 crore to 50 crore vaccine doses by then, so that they can be utilised. He assured his viewers that the Centre was working day and night on figuring out the intricacies of how vaccination would be undertaken. Expert bodies have been constituted to look at all aspects of the process, he added.

The expectation of procuring and vaccinating citizens by July 2021 is based on the assumption that by then, one or more vaccines would be ready. At present, only Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has received regulatory approval across the globe, and that too has not undergone Phase III human clinical trials. This brings the efficacy of the vaccine under question, with several countries opting to wait for other vaccines than opting for the Russian alternative. Reports had earlier stated that Centre had approved Sputnik V for the third phase of clinical trials in India. However, the minister said that irrespective of what has been reported in the media, the Centre has not yet taken any decision regarding the Russian vaccine.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also stated that the immunity data on coronavirus is also being scrutinised by the government.

Coronavirus vaccine: Who would get the doses first?

The Union Minister stated that a list of priority groups for vaccination against coronavirus is being prepared. For this, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is coordinating with the state governments, he said. The ministry is preparing a format through which states can submit the priority groups that would require vaccination first. Dr Harsh Vardhan said that this would include health workers, like government and private doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff, and other frontline workers involved in the testing and treating of coronavirus patients. He hopes to finish this exercise by the end of October.

Moreover, the states would also need to submit the details regarding cold chain facilities and related infrastructure, since this would be needed even down to the block level, he said.

Centre, apart from this, is also working on undertaking a massive capacity building exercise in HR, training and supervision regarding this.

Centre’s roadmap for vaccines proven to be effective abroad

The minister asserted that India was open to studying the feasibility of introducing several vaccines in the country if they were available for the Indian population. This would be based on the immunogenicity and efficacy of the vaccines as found in their clinical trials. However, an approved vaccine that did not undergo clinical trials in India, would be introduced into the country for dosage only after its clinical trials take place in the country. This would ensure that the vaccine is safe to use among the Indian population, he stated.

Coronavirus vaccine: India’s plan to handle financing

Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that India had taken loans from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, amounting to Rs 15,000 crore to manage the pandemic. Meanwhile, the states and implementation agencies were being supported via budgetary resources, he said.

He further asserted that the loans were on a reimbursement basis and the country was not depending on financing agencies to undertake the pandemic management programme. Providing vaccines to the citizens of the country was a priority of the government and nothing would hamper that, he assured.

Currently, according to the IE tracker, India is developing two vaccine candidates in phase II clinical human trials. One is being developed by Bharat Biotech, while Zydus Cadila has undertaken the development of the other. These vaccines could also be available by next year if the trials go as planned. Apart from that, India has also signed agreements for the manufacture and distribution in the country with four leading vaccine candidates, including Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate and that by Novavax. On a global scale, the pre-clinical and clinical trials for as many as 193 candidates are underway, with 42 of them in the clinical stage.

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