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New Delhi: Indian government is likely to soon sign a purchase agreement with Serum Institute to procure 5 crore Oxford vaccines, said a news channel citing sources.

The news report said government will approve the Oxford vaccine within a day or two post UK MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) nod, while adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make an announcement on this soon.

Post procurement, vaccines will be distributed among states in early January, said the report.

Government is said to be targeting Phase 1 of the inoculation plan in January.

States have been asked to identify people who will be vaccinated under Phase 1.

Serum's Covishield vaccine candidate is on the Chimpanzee Adenovirus platform and is being manufactured in Pune. The vaccine has been developed by Astrazeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. The regulator had allowed the phase 2 and 3 clubbed clinical trials of the vaccine and they have applied for emergency use authorisation.

India may begin vaccinating people against COVID-19 in January and the government's first priority has been safety and efficacy of the vaccine, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday

"I personally feel may be in January in any stage or any week, there can be a time when we can be in a position to give first COVID vaccine shot to people of India" Harsh Vardhan told ANI.

The minister said that the vaccines, including those who have applied for emergency use authorisation are being analysed by the regulator.

"India is not less than any country when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine and research. Our first priority has been the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. We do not want any comprise on that. Our regulators are analysing them with seriousness," he said.

The minister had said on Saturday that the country's scientists and health experts have worked on the development of an indigenous vaccine and in the upcoming six to seven months India will have the capacity to inoculate about 30 crore people.

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