Indians won't get option to choose between Covishield and COVAXINLast updated on Jan 13, 2021, 10:58 am
The government won't allow beneficiaries to choose between two coronavirus vaccines, that were granted the emergency use approval this month, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan declared on Tuesday.
India's inoculation drive will start on January 16 with Covishield, which is being produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), and COVAXIN, developed by Bharat Biotech along with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Other countries are also not extending a choice to people
Addressing the media, Bhushan underlined that India would be doing what other nations are.
"Several countries in the world are using more than one COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate their citizens. In none of these countries are beneficiaries being offered an option of choosing which vaccine to take," he said.
Both doses of the vaccines will be administered four weeks apart.
28 days after first dose, beneficiaries will get second one
Dr. Balram Bhargava, Director-General of ICMR, said recommendations about inoculation are clear.
"It [the dose] will be given at day zero and at day 28, four weeks apart, and as has been pointed out, the effect will come after two weeks," he added.
He urged people to continue honoring coronavirus-linked precautions like wearing masks, washing hands, and maintaining a distance from others.
Some countries may keep a gap of six weeks
Further, Dr. Bhargava stressed that some countries are toying with the idea of keeping a gap of six weeks between both doses but for now, India would adhere to the four-week regimen.
"We would like to stick to four weeks, and would like our first phase [of vaccination] to be at four weeks till more knowledge is attained," the ICMR chief said.
Procurement of vials will be staggered, said top government official
The first phase, as known by now, will cover three crore healthcare and frontline workers. People above 50 and those having comorbidities are the next in line.
Though both SII and Bharat Biotech have manufactured enough doses to meet the initial demand of India, the government plans to stagger the procurement of vials.
Bhushan said both companies are aware of this.
Over one million doses of COVAXIN were procured for free
So far, the government has procured 11 million doses of Covishield (the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine) and 5.5 million doses of COVAXIN. The price of Covishield is Rs. 200 per dose (exclusive of taxes).
Of COVAXIN's order, 1.65 million doses were procured for free and the remaining 3.85 million were purchased at Rs. 295 per dose, taxes not included.
Yesterday, the transportation of doses started.
Each team of five will have only one vaccinator
For the massive drive, 2,360 master trainers have been trained. Till now, they have provided training to 61,000 program managers, 2,00,000 vaccinators, and 3,70,000 team members.
There will be only one vaccinator in every team of five members, Bhushan said but added that others also needed proper training.
"This exercise will last maybe for beyond one year," he predicted.