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Last Updated : Aug 13, 2020 10:02 PM IST | Source: PTI

Expert group deliberates on strategy to ensure COVID-19 vaccine availability, delivery mechanism

The committee also advised all the states not to chart separate pathways of procurement, according to the health ministry.

PTI

The national expert group on vaccine administration for COVID-19 met for the first time on August 12 and delved on the procurement mechanisms for the vaccine, including both indigenous and international manufacturing along with guiding principles for prioritization of population groups for vaccination. The meeting was chaired by Dr V K Paul, Member Niti Aayog along with Secretary (Ministry of Health) as co-chair.

The group members discussed on broad parameters guiding the selection of COVID-19 vaccine candidates for the country and sought inputs from the standing Technical sub-committee of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). The committee also advised all the states not to chart separate pathways of procurement, according to the health ministry.

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The expert group deliberated on "conceptualization and implementation mechanisms for creation of a digital infrastructure for inventory management and delivery mechanism of the vaccine including tracking of vaccination process with particular focus on last-mile delivery," the health ministry said.

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 group delved on the procurement mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccine, including both indigenous and international manufacturing along with guiding principles for prioritization of population groups for vaccination," the ministry said.

The expert group discussed the financial resources required for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine and various options of financing the same.

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Available options in terms of delivery platforms, cold chain and associated infrastructure for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination were also taken up.

Further, strategy and follow-up action on all possible scenarios to ensure equitable and transparent delivery of the vaccine was deliberated upon, the ministry said.

Issues related to vaccine safety and surveillance were taken up and strategy for community involvement through transparent information and awareness creation were discussed, it added.

India's support to its key neighbors and development partner countries for COVID-19 vaccines was also discussed.

"The expert group discussed that India will leverage domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity and will also engage with all international players for early delivery of vaccines not only in India but also in low and middle-income countries," the ministry said.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
First Published on Aug 13, 2020 12:55 pm
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