The Centre expects to receive 40-50 crore doses of a vaccine for COVID-19 by July 2021, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on October 4. The doses should be enough to cover 20-25 crore people when delivered.
The procurement and equitable delivery of the vaccines, including those by Indian vaccine manufacturers, will be given "full government support", the Health Minister said during his weekly public interaction on 'Sunday Samvad' platform.
The doses are being procured by the government and will be enough to inoculate about 25 crore of India's 130 crore population. Vardhan said priority will be given to frontline health-care workers.
A high-level expert group is going into all aspects of vaccines and the health ministry is currently preparing a format in which states will submit lists of priority population groups to receive a vaccine, the Union minister said.
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The list of frontline health workers will include both government as well as 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.
"The Centre is also working on plans for building capacities in human resources, training, supervision and others on a massive scale and roughly estimates to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021. All this is under various stages of finalisation," he said.
The minister had earlier said a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available by the first quarter of 2021.
Covishield, a vaccine candidate in Stages 2 and 3 of human trials, is being developed by the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca. It is also being tested in India and will be manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world.
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The drug is close to successful completion and may be ready for production in three months, according to reports. That would allow plenty of time for the government to procure the doses as it expects.
To a question regarding the phase-three clinical trial of Russia's 'Sputnik-V' vaccine in India, Vardhan clarified that the matter was still under consideration, and no decision has been taken yet.For our complete coverage of the novel coronavirus, click here.