Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, union health ministry, said, "Three vaccines in pre-clinical trial stage and 6 vaccines are in clinical trial stage."
As we wait to see which vaccine gets the emergency use authorisation (EUA) approval from the government, union ministry of health and family welfare on Tuesday said "multiple vaccine candidates are in different stages of development, some may get licensed in next few weeks."
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Raising hopes that India might soon authorise a vaccine for emergency use, Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, union health ministry said "There are 9 vaccine candidates which are under various stages and out of these 3 vaccines in pre-clinical trial stage and 6 vaccines are in clinical trial stage."
"India's regulatory framework has a specific provision for grant of emergency use authorisation. Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have applied to emergency use approval. PM Modi has interacted with all vaccine manufactures and scientists. 6 vaccine candidates in clinical trial stage in India. Once we get a green signal from our scientists, we'll launch massive production of the vaccine. We have made all the preparations and drawn an outline to ramp up production of vaccine and to make it available to each & every person in shortest possible time," Bhushan told a press conference.
Further, Dr VK Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog said, "We are chasing the virus and we need to make sure that the virus doesn't chase us. Three vaccine candidates are under consideration of the regulator for licensing. Very active consideration is going on. There is hope that early licensure is possible in respect of all of them or any one of them."
The six vaccines, including AstraZeneca's Covidshield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, are in trial stages. Bhushan confirmed that Bharat Biotech has also sought emergency-use authorisation from Drug controller general of India (DCGI) for its COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and Astra Zeneca have already applied for emergency-use authorisation in India over the weekend.
The union health ministry is very clear that the "vaccine will requires 2-3 doses, 3 to 4 weeks apart."
Also read: COVID-19 vaccine: DCGI to assess emergency use applications of Pfizer, Serum Institute under accelerated review process
When it comes to the infrastructure and people who will be vaccinated the first, union health ministry said, "Current cold chain system is capable of storing additional quantity of COVID-19 vaccine required for first 3 crore health care workers and front line workers."
Meanwhile, the government has identified a total of 30 crore as priority sector to be vaccinated. These include about 1 crore health care workers in both government and private sector, about 2 crore of frontline workers, that is the ones from central and state police, armed forces, disaster management volunteers etc, and the remaining about 27 crore under the prioritized age group, that is people above 50 years and persons less than 50 years with associated comorbidities, health ministry shared in a presentation made in the press conference.
Further talking on the state and the Centre coordination on the vaccination drive, Bhushan said, "Vaccination cannot just be a state's or the Centre's responsibility, it has to be people's participation. Process of collecting database of health are workers has started across all states and UTs and central ministries. This data is being uploaded on CO-WIN software. This data will be verified."
Union health ministry also shared that the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) which was constituted in August this year, provides guidance on prioritisation of population groups, procurement and inventory management, vaccine selection and vaccine delivery and tracking mechanism.
According to the NEGVAC's recommendation on prioritised population groups - healthcare providers and workers in healthcare setting, personnel from state and central police, armed forces, home guards, civil defence and disaster management volunteers and municipal workers and priority age group has been identified. The preparatory activities for the rollout of the vaccine being carried out by the central government in collaboration with states and UTs, health ministry added.
According to the NEGVAC's recommendation and government’s initial estimates, union health ministry in the presentation said, "Technology driven Smooth implementation of vaccination drive can be completed in 1 year or more."
Also, important to note here is that when it comes to the vaccination drive, India has around 2.39 lack vaccinators (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM)) across the country. Only 1.54 lakh ANMs will be used for COVID-19 vaccination and the union health ministry has made it clear that COVID-19 vaccination drive will have a minimal impact on routine health services including routine immunisation. If need arises, more vaccinators will be appointed.
To watch out for is how soon the vaccine candidates who have submitted their applications seeking EUA get the drug controllers nod as on December 9, the subject expert committee (SEC) will meet where all the three candidates – Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute and Pfizer, will have to prove their vaccine efficacy and share trials data with the government.
(Edited by : Jomy)
First Published: IST