India to receive 400-500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine: Harsh Vardhan

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 04, 2020 Published on October 04, 2020

India plans to procure 400-500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to cover the 20- 25 crore population, and the States have already been asked to submit details of the priority population groups who should be receiving the first set of shots by end of the month, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.

“Topmost priority would be given to frontline healthcare workers,” Vardhan said while participating in online Q&A session. He also said that vaccine procurement will be done Centrally and each consignment will be tracked in real time, the Minister said.

The list of frontline health workers will include both government and private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, ASHA workers, surveillance officers and many other occupational categories who are involved in tracing, testing and treatment of patients.

This exercise is targeted to be completed by the end of this October, and the States are being closely guided to also submit details about cold-chain facilities and other related infrastructure which will be required down to the block level. The Centre is also working on plans for building capacities in HR, training, and supervision, etc on a massive scale, Vardhan said.

A high-level committee headed by VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, is working on understanding the timelines of availability of various vaccines in the country, obtaining commitments from vaccine manufacturers to make available maximum number of doses for India inventory and supply chain management and also on prioritisation of high-risk groups. This is a work in progress, which will be completed by the time the vaccines are ready to ensure the swift rollout of the immunisation programme.

Answering a question, he said that it is not possible to comment on the superiority of one vaccine over another, although he would ensure “that even if we have multiple vaccines available, they will all be safe and will elicit the requisite immune response against the novel coronavirus”.

Indian efficacy

He said that all vaccines that have proven to be safe, immunogenic and efficacious in clinical trials outside India need to undergo bridging studies to prove their safety and immunogenicity for the Indian population as well, although these studies can be conducted with a much smaller sample size and can end quickly.

Sharing his views on single-dose versus double-dose vaccines, Vardhan said that for quick control of a pandemic, it is desirable to have a single-dose vaccine. However, it is often difficult to achieve desired levels of immune protection using a single dose. He added, two-dose vaccines are suitable for attaining the desired immunogenicity as the first dose gives some immune protection, and the second dose augments it further.

Meanwhile, the total confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country touched almost 65.5 lakh and the number of recovered people crossed the 55 lakh-mark. In the last 24 hours, a little over 75,000 people tested positive, while over 82,000 recovered. The Covid-19 death toll in the country is 10,1782.

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Published on October 04, 2020
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