While the White House has said Americans could get a COVID-19 vaccine shot as early as December 11 or 12 after Pfizer applied for an emergency use authorisation of its vaccine candidate, the Indian government is exploring the modalities of emergency authorisation and usage of anti-coronavirus vaccines pending completion of phase-three clinical trial and regular licensure.
American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech last week submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorisation of its vaccine. An FDA vaccine advisory committee is slated to meet December on 10 to take it up.
"Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December," Dr Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US coronavirus vaccine programme told CNN.
In India, the PMO-constituted Vaccine Task Force (VTF) will lay down the principles for emergency use authorisation while the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) should take the lead in setting the principles for advance market commitment, including vaccine pricing, reported news agency PTI citing sources.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Currently, five coronavirus vaccine candidates are under different phases of clinical trials in India. The Serum Institute of India (SII) is conducting the phase-three trial of the Oxford- COVID-19 vaccine, while Bharat Biotech and ICMR have already started the phase-three trail of the indigenously developed COVAXIN jab. An indigenously developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila has completed a phase-two clinical trial in the country. Dr Reddy's Laboratories will soon start combined phase two and three trials of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.
Earlier, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said the coronavirus vaccine will be available in a couple of months and it is estimated that by July-August, 400-500 million vaccine doses will be made available for 25-30 crore people.
“I am confident that the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in the next three-four months,” he said while addressing the FICCI FLO's National Webinar on 'The Shifting Healthcare Paradigm During and Post-COVID' on November 19.
SII 's CEO Adar Poonawalla had also said the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine should be available for healthcare workers and elderly people by around February 2021 and by April for the general public and will be priced at a maximum of Rs 1,000 for two necessary doses for the public, depending on the final trial results and regulatory approvals.
Probably by 2024, every Indian will get vaccinated, he said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS), 2020 on November 19.Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.