Coronavirus vaccine: Where does India stand in carrying out national immunisation drive? Virologist explains

By: |
November 25, 2020 4:00 PM

At present, three coronavirus vaccine candidates are being tested in India.

Earlier, the DBT had announced programmes for vaccine development and other COVID-related solutions, but this mission will be dedicated purely for development of vaccines, a DBT official said.ADB said more than 14.3 million positive cases have been identified in Asia and the Pacific, causing more than 2,00,000 deaths.

Coronavirus vaccine in India: Amid rising global coronavirus caseload and deaths, the news about successful vaccine trials has come as a relief. Both Moderna’s and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine candidates have reported an efficacy rate of 95% in Phase 3 trials conducted at a large scale. Apart from that, the Phase 2 trials of Oxford-AstraZeneca also showed a robust protection against the virus, even among the elderly. A report in IE quoted Virologist Shahid Jameel as saying that these results would encourage and work well for other candidates that are being developed at the moment.

However, the case in India is still unknown, due to the high caseload and the high population density. On this, Jameel was quoted by the report as saying that India is thankfully in a good position mostly because of the capacity to manufacture 3 billion doses of vaccines, of which one billion is used domestically, while the rest is exported.

At present, three coronavirus vaccine candidates are being tested in India, including the indigenous candidate Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), DNA-based ZyCoV-D developed by Ahmedabad’s Zydus Cadila and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s variant manufactured by Pune’s Serum Institute of India.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that they plan to vaccinate as many as 25 crore people by next year, translating into 50 crore doses of vaccine.

Jameel was quoted as saying that the vaccine prioritisation should be based on three purposes – to protect the frontline healthcare workers, reducing the mortality and controlling the pandemic by herd immunity. This means, Jameel stated, that healthcare, security and sanitation workers, elderly and people with comorbidities should be the priority.

The report further stated that if herd immunity requires a coverage of 60%, then the country would have to undertake the immunization of around 80 crore people, which would mean that 160 crore doses of the vaccine would be needed. While Bharat Biotech has claimed to have an annual capacity of 30 crore doses, which can be ramped up to 50 crore, the SII has estimated that it can produce 80 crore doses a year, of which it would make 50% available to India and the remaining would go to COVAX – the international alliance to provide low and middle-income countries with coronavirus vaccine.

Taking into consideration the annual contribution of 40 crore doses by SII, 30 crore by Bharat Biotech and 10 crore by Zydus, India would be able to cover 60% of the population in a span of two years, the report added.

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