India is set to launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 with two vaccines -- Covishield and Covaxin – but the recipients will not be given the option to choose between the two, signalled the Union health ministry.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had recently granted emergency use authorisation to two COVID-19 vaccines – Covishield, developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
With the vaccinations scheduled to begin on January 16 starting with healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase, the Centre has said that all the vaccine vials -- 1.1 crore of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India and 55 lakh of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech -- will be received by January 14.
Ahead of the vaccination drive, there seems to be expectations among many that they would receive the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in India instead of the homegrown Covaxin. Asked if the recipients would have the option to choose between the two vaccines, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "There is no such option available to any of the beneficiaries in any country."
This means people will not get to choose the vaccine they will be administered. They can get either of the two COVID-19 vaccines that have got emergency use approval in India.
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Bhushan asserted that both vaccines are safe and generate immune responses against the novel coronavirus.
Dr VK Paul member, NITI Aayog member (Health), said these two vaccines have been tested in thousands of people, they are the safest and there is no risk of any significance.
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The vaccination drive in the country in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.
In India, four more COVID-19 vaccines, one by Zydus Cadila, Russian vaccine Sputnik V, Biological E, and Gennova, are in advanced clinical trials in India, said Bhushan. "In the coming days you may see some of these vaccine manufacturers too approaching the drug controller for emergency use authorisation," he added.
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India's COVID-19 caseload has increased to 1,04,95,147 with 15,968 infections being reported in a day, while the recoveries have surged to 1,01,29,111 pushing the national recovery rate to 96.51 percent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on January 13. The death toll increased to 1,51,529 with 202 daily new fatalities, the data showed. There are 2,14,507 active cases of coronavirus infections in the country, which comprises 2.04 percent of the total caseload, the data stated.
(With inputs from PTI)Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.