India has been offered 7.5 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX global vaccine sharing programme, but it is not clear when the jabs will arrive in the country as a consensus on the indemnity clause is yet to be reached, sources said.
The government last week said that it is working actively with vaccine manufacturer Moderna to see how its vaccine can be made available in the country.
Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine was granted emergency use authorisation by India's drug regulator last month.
"India has been offered 7.5 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX global vaccine sharing programme," a source said.
However, there is no clarity so far when the shots would be available in India as "the talks are still on and a consensus on the indemnity issue is yet to be reached," a source said.
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.
On the availability of Moderna vaccine in the country, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul had recently said the government is working actively with Moderna to see how its vaccine can be imported and made available in the country.
"...to and fro (talks) are going on over the contractual specifics. Discussions have not yet concluded. We are making efforts as to it happens at the earliest. We are now expecting to hear from them anytime. Currently, they have to respond to some of the points we have made and we will take it forward," he said on Friday.According to sources, the Indian government has put forth certain conditions for finalising the indemnity clause contract and has sent it to the US drug manufacturer for their perusal.