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Expert group discusses Covid vaccine procurement

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 12, 2020 Published on August 12, 2020

Looks at ways to ensure availability, tracking, delivery

An expert group set up by the Centre for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine, which met for the first time on Wednesday, cautioned the States against getting into a race with one another.

The panel also discussed the broad contours of procuring finances as well as creating an inventory for vaccine candidates, once they are proved safe and effective in clinical trials.

The meeting of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, chaired by Vinod K Paul, Member NITI Aayog, was convened in the backdrop of Russia claiming on Tuesday that it had found an effective Covid-19 vaccine.

However, the experts did not discuss the possibility of India exploring the availability of the Russian ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine, whose safety and efficacy features are yet to be ascertained.

No presentation was made to the group by any of the manufacturers of vaccine candidates, which are currently undergoing clinical trials.

Though various Indian groups are working on at least three dozen vaccines for Covid-19, only three — developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, Gujarat-based Zydus Cadila and the Oxford Unviersity vaccine being manufactured by Serum Institute in Pune — are under clinical trials.

Need for digital infra

According to an official statement, the expert group deliberated upon the need to create a digital infrastructure for inventory management and delivery of the vaccine, including tracking of the vaccination process up to last-mile delivery. The experts, however, advised the States ‘not to chart separate pathways’ for procuring the vaccine.

Apart from discussing the broad parameters for choosing vaccine candidates, the group decided to seek inputs from the existing Standing Technical Sub-Committee of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

The group also held detailed discussions for putting in place procurement mechanisms for the vaccine — including indigenous and international manufacturing — and which population groups should get priority once the vaccine becomes available.

Financial resources for buying the vaccine, financing options,equitable and transparent delivery, cold chain and associated infrastructure for the roll-out of vaccination, were also deliberated upon.

The meeting decided that India should put the domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity to good use and engage with all international vaccine makers so that not only India but all other low and middle income countries would be able to access the vaccine at the earliest.

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Published on August 12, 2020
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