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COVID-19 Vaccine may be ready by the first quarter of 2021: Health Minister

The Indian Government is considering emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccination so that it is made available at the earliest to those in high-risk groups such as senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings.

Sep 14, 2020 14:06 IST
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The COVID-19 vaccine may be ready by the first quarter of 2021, as per Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The Minister though stated that no date has been fixed yet for the launch of the vaccine in India.

The Health Minister shared the information while interacting with his social media followers on September 13, 2020 during the first episode of Sunday Samvad. He assured that the Government is taking full precautions in conducting the human trials of the vaccine. 

How will the corona vaccine be distributed?

The Health Minister stated that the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 under the Chairmanship of Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog is drawing up a detailed strategy on how to immunize majority of the population. 

The Minister stated that issues like vaccine security, cost, equity, cold-chain requirements and production timelines are also being discussed intensely. He further assured that the vaccine will be first made available to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity.

Government to fast-track vaccine for high-risk groups?

The Health Minister further shared that the Government is considering emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccination so that it is made available at the earliest to those in high-risk groups such as senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings. Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that this shall be done after a consensus is reached on the same.

As per officials, the last stage trials of a vaccines take about 6-9 months and an emergency authorisation may be considered once a certain level of efficacy is established along with its safety.

The Health Minister stated that he would be happy to take the first dose if some people had a trust deficit to dispel concerns regarding the safety of the vaccine. 

Background

• Currently, three vaccines are in advanced stages of trial in India, which includes two indigenously developed vaccines and the vaccine candidate developed jointly by AstraZeneca and researchers from Oxford University. 

• The vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is currently leading the trial phase and is set to enter phase 3 trials. The other two locally developed candidates by ICMR-Bharat Biotech and Cadila are in phase 2 trials. 

• The Health Minister's statement came a day after AstraZeneca announced the resumption of its COVID-19 vaccine trial after it received a go-ahead from the British medical regulators.

• AstraZeneca's Indian partner Serum Institute of India had also paused its trials in India after it was issued a show-cause notice by the Drugs Controller General of India. The Serum Institute is now awaiting approval from the DCGI to resume trials of the Oxford COVID vaccine in India.

• The Indian government is also in talks with Russia to pursue Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine after it was formally registered in August 2020.

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