2 min read.Updated: 05 Oct 2020, 07:25 AM ISTLeroy Leo
To meet the stiff timeline, the govt plans to use multiple vaccine candidates so as to improve supplies
The government plans to administer around 40-50 crore covid-19 vaccines to 20-25 crore Indians by July. The Centre, along with states, is also preparing a list of priority population groups, especially frontline health workers, who would receive immunisation shots, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.
“The list of frontline healthcare workers includes government sector as well as private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, Asha workers, surveillance officers and many other categories of frontline workers who are involved in facing, testing and treatment of patients," the minister said in his weekly ‘Sunday Samvad’ session.
The Centre has also asked the states to come up with a list of cold chain facilities for storage and distribution of vaccine doses down to the block level, he said.
“Our rough estimate will be to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses, covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021. All this is still under various stages of finalisation," he said, adding that the government is already looking at immunity data for covid-19 disease.
Currently, three vaccines are undergoing human trials in India, with Serum Institute of India conducting a seamless phase 2/3 trial of the candidate jointly developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca plc. The other two vaccines, by Zydus Cadila and another jointly by Bharat Biotech International and Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology, are indigenously developed vaccines that are in a seamless phase 1/2 trial.
Apart from these three, Serum Institute is also expected to start the phase 2/3 trials of Novavax’s vaccine candidate in the second half of this month, while there are about half a dozen more indigenous vaccine in pre-clinical stage.
The Indian government is also keeping an eye on talks of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology for mass manufacturing of their Sputnik V vaccine by Indian companies. The government has earlier said that they would facilitate phase 3 trials in India.
Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said that the government is open to introducing foreign-developed covid-19 vaccine in India, provided they prove they are safe and efficacious for the Indian population.
“All vaccines that are shown to be safe, immunogenic and efficacious in clinical trials outside India need to undergo bridging studies to prove their safety and immunogencity in the Indian population as well. Such studies are conducted with much smaller sample size and end quickly," he said.
Serum Institute’s clinical trial in India, which is a bridging study, is enrolling only around 1,600 patients as compared to around 5,000 and above that AstraZeneca is enrolling each in countries like the UK, US and Brazil.