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COVID-19 vaccine update: Centre plans to vaccinate 20-25 crore Indians by July 2021

The doses are being procured by the government and will be enough to inoculate about 25 crore of India's 130 crore population. Priority will be given to frontline health-care workers, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.

October 05, 2020 / 08:05 AM IST
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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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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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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.

Read: Does Centre have Rs 80,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccine, asks Serum Institute's Adar Poonawalla

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.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Oct 4, 2020 04:36 pm

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