Union Health minister adds that India is looking at the availability of several different types of covid vaccines, of which some may be suitable for a particular age group while others may not be
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said that the government is mulling over plans to roll out the country's first Covid-19 vaccine by prioritizing target groups in the entire population. He clarified that it is anticipated that supplies of covid vaccines would be available in limited quantities in the beginning.
“In a huge country like India, it is critical to prioritize vaccine delivery based on various factors such as per risk of exposure, comorbidity among various population groups, the mortality rate among COVID Cases, and several others," the health minister said in his fifth episode of Sunday Samvaad while interacting and responding to queries on social media.
Vardhan also added that India is looking at the availability of several different types of vaccines, of which some may be suitable for a particular age group while others may not be.
Reiterating that the most important component of the planning is the cold chain and other logistics which need to be planned appropriately to ensure no glitches occur in vaccine delivery even at the last mile, Vardhan highlighted the need of the massive advocacy required for building community sensitization activities to understand the reasons for vaccine hesitancy and address them appropriately.
Denying the rumours of the Government prioritizing young and working-class for the COVID-19 vaccine for economic reasons, the union minister said, “the prioritisation of groups for COVID-19 vaccine shall be based on two key considerations: Occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality."
On the ongoing clinical trials of the various covid-9 vaccine candidates in the country, Vardhan explained that the Phase I trials are done primarily to establish the safety of the product; Phase II Trials measure immunogenicity as a primary endpoint and safety as a secondary endpoint; In Phase III clinical trials, both safety and immunogenicity continue to be measured as secondary endpoints; efficacy being the primary endpoint for this phase of a clinical trial.
On the issue of 'Emergency Use Authorization' of COVID vaccines in India, the minister said that the issue is being deliberated at present. “Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorization vaccine approval for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will depend on the data generated," he added.
Vardhan informed that COVID-19 Vaccines currently in trial in India are two-dose and three-dose vaccines.
Vaccine by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech require two doses while the Cadila Healthcare vaccine requires three Doses. For other vaccines in preclinical stages, the dosing is being tested, he elaborated.
On the need to include other novel candidates as COVID Vaccine, he said, “Considering the large population size of India, one vaccine or vaccine manufacturer will not be able to fulfil the requirements of vaccinating the whole country. Therefore, we are open to assessing the feasibility of introducing several COVID-19 vaccines in the country as per their availability for the Indian population."
Sharing his views on Public-Private Partnership during the Pandemic, Dr Harsh Vardhan further said that the present situation demands multiple vaccine partners to ensure maximum vaccination coverage to the Indian population and the use of a single vaccine from a certain company should not be seen through a negative lens.
Apart from this, Vardhan, during his interaction, also said that the rollout of the faster and cheaper Feluda Covid-19 test will happen in the near future.
"Based on tests in over 2,000 patients during the trials at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and on testing in private labs, the test showed 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity. This compares favourably to ICMR’s current acceptation criteria of RT-PCR Kit of at least 95% sensitivity and at least 99% specificity," Vardhan said.
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