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Will take the first dose happily, said Union minister Harsh Vardhan.
Will take the first dose happily, said Union minister Harsh Vardhan.

‘Covid-19 vaccine likely by March 2021’

The Centre is taking all precautions in conducting the human trials, says health minister Harsh Vardhan

A covid-19 vaccine is expected by March 2021 and the Indian government is working on the details for emergency authorization for mass vaccination, especially for senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings, health minister Harsh Vardhan said during an interaction with his followers on social media in the first episode of Sunday Samvad.

“While no date has been fixed for the vaccine launch, it may be ready by the first quarter of 2021" and the Centre is taking all precautions in conducting the human trials. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 under the chairmanship of V.K. Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, is drawing up a detailed strategy on how to immunize a majority of the population, he said.

“The emergency authorization shall be done after a consensus has been reached," the minister said. Harsh Vardhan said he will be happy to take the first dose of the vaccine if people have trust deficit.

“Issues such as cost, vaccine security, cold-chain requirements, production timelines and equity, are also being discussed intensely. The vaccine will be first made available to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity," he said.

Measures are being taken to ensure accessibility and affordability of all drugs and other therapeutics to all citizens, irrespective of their paying capacities, he said.

The department of biotechnology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have been pro-active in responding to the emerging situation to support the advancement of vaccine candidates, the health minister said.

India is actively partnering with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and human trials are going on at different phases for several vaccines in public and private Indian laboratories, as well as hospitals.

“A safe and effective vaccine will help establish immunity to covid-19 at a much faster pace as compared to the natural infection. It is hoped that a consensus will emerge in the next few months over the desired level of protective herd immunity in any community," Harsh Vardhan said.

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