Coronavirus vaccine to reach 25 crore Indians by mid-2021: Government
The Indian government is planning to provide vaccines to roughly 25 crore people by July 2021, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday. Vardhan was speaking during the fourth edition of "Sunday Samvaad," his weekly social media interaction with the public. India is the world's second worst-hit country after the United States. The tally has climbed to 65,49,373 infections with 1,01,782 deaths.
'400-500mn doses to cover 25 crore people by July 2021'
Vardhan said, "There is a high-level expert body going into all aspects of vaccines. Our rough estimate and the target would be to receive and utilize 400-500 million doses covering approximately 25 crore people by July 2021." He added, "Our government is working round-the-clock to ensure that there is a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, once they are ready."
States to submit lists of priority population groups for vaccines
Responding to a query on prioritizing the distribution of vaccines, Vardhan said the Health Ministry is creating a format wherein states will submit their lists of priority population groups to receive vaccines. For instance, healthcare workers, both government and private, will remain a priority. The government is aiming to complete this exercise by the end of this month.
High-level committee to draw up vaccination process
Vaccines will be procured centrally, and each consignment gets tracked in real-time until delivery, Vardhan said. He said that a high-level committee headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul will draft the entire process. These committees will take into consideration the timelines of availability of vaccines, obtaining commitments from manufacturers, supply chain management, and also the prioritization of high-risk groups.
Russian vaccine's phase-3 trials approval under consideration: Vardhan
Vardhan said that all proposed clinical trials in India have been designed using set principles and are reviewed by the Subject Expert Committee set up by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). He also clarified that clearance for conducting Phase-3 clinical trials for the Russian vaccine Sputnik-V is still under consideration and no decision has been taken yet.
Vardhan warned of adverse effects of vaccination
Further, Vardhan noted that adverse effects after vaccination are common, including pain at the injection site, mild fever and redness; and anxiety-related palpitations, syncope, or fainting. These events are transient, self-limiting and do not affect the protective response of the vaccine, Vardhan said.
'India not planning to conduct challenge trials'
When asked about human challenge experiments, Vardhan said, "India is not planning to venture into such trials until the method is proven to have an established benefit as per global experience." He added, "When conducted, human challenge studies should be undertaken with abundant forethought, caution, and oversight. The value of the information to be gained should clearly justify the risks to human subjects."
Leading vaccine candidate Covishield under phase-2/3 trials
At the moment, two indigenously-developed vaccine candidates— Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN and Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D—are in Phase-2 of clinical trials. The Pune-based Serum Institute of India has partnered with Oxford University and AstraZeneca to manufacture their vaccine candidate, Covishield. SII is also conducting Phase-2/3 human clinical trials in India. It is expected to be given the required clearances in the UK by December.