2 min read.Updated: 30 Oct 2020, 04:44 PM IST Written By Anulekha Ray
'Mortality reduction and protecting frontline workers should be first priority,' said Dr Vinod Paul, member of Niti Aayog
Centre is planning to procure COVID-19 vaccines directly from the drugmakers and distribute them among priority group
The search for a safe and effective vaccine against novel coronavirus is on. The frontline workers will be the first one to get vaccinated in India when a vaccine is available, according to a senior official. "Mortality reduction and protecting frontline workers should be first priority," said Dr Vinod Paul, member of Niti Aayog and the head of a panel advising the prime minister on the country’s efforts to produce and roll-out the inoculation, according to Bloomberg.
“Health workers, both in public and private sector across rural and urban India are fighting the battle. Also, municipal workers and police people fighting everywhere should be priority," he added.
The Centre is planning to procure COVID-19 vaccines directly from the drugmakers and distribute them among priority group under a special coronavirus immunisation programme, an official sources said, according to news agency PTI. The states and union territories have been asked not to chart separate pathways of procurement, according to reports.
The central government has already started the process of identifying around 30 crore priority beneficiaries. It has demarcated four categories of people for vaccination in the initial phase — around one crore healthcare professionals including doctors, MBBS students, nurses and ASHA workers, etc.; around two crore frontline workers including municipal corporation workers, personnel of the police and armed forces; about 26 crore people aged above 50; and a special group of those below 50 years of age with co-morbidities and requiring specialised care.
The national vaccine distribution plan is being formulated with the assumption that limited volumes of the inoculation will be available in the first few months of production, Paul said.
“Even if you put together the best capacities, they won’t be sufficient. The most optimistic scenario is that it will take six months to a year to reach everyone," he said.
India has set aside about ₹50,000 crore at an estimated ₹500 per person to vaccinate the world’s second most populous nation, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.
On pricing, Paul said it was too early to discuss costs. “We are working within parameters," he said. “Resources will not be a constraint," he added.
At present, three vaccine candidates are at different phases of trial in India. Two homegrown vaccine candidates — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila have already started the phase II clinical trial. Another vaccine candidate, Covishield, developed by the University of Oxford has recently commenced the phase III clinical trial in India.
Covaxin also received drug regulator's approval to start the large scale phase III clinical trial in the country. Dr Reddy's Laboratories will soon start phase II clinical trials of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.
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