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Govt set for huge boost in COVID-19 vaccine supplies: J P Nadda

Late last month, a senior government official told reporters that the government could only count on getting about 150 million doses in August.

August 13, 2021 / 11:26 AM IST
File image: BJP National President JP Nadda

File image: BJP National President JP Nadda

Government expects to get about 266 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in August as a simpler licensing process has helped the government secure far more than earlier expected, the president of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party said on Friday.

Late last month, a senior government official told reporters that the government could only count on getting about 150 million doses in August.

Since then, India’s drug regulator has approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – though the company has not yet committed to a delivery schedule – and commercial production of Russia’s Sputnik V in India could start too.

Indian drugmaker Cadila Healthcare’s ZyCoV-D could also be approved soon, the health minister said this month.

Writing in a column, Jagat Prakash Nadda, president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, credited Modi for making it easier for vaccine makers to get approval.

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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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”Among the many significant decisions taken by the PM is simplifying compulsory licensing policy to speed up vaccine production,” Nadda wrote.

”It ensured clearance for manufacturing of Russia’s Sputnik V in the country and just a few days back Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also been given clearance. In the coming days more vaccines will be available in India.”

Nadda, who was the health minister in Modi’s first term, said India’s vaccine supply will reach 266.5 million doses in August, 261.5 million in September, 282.5 million in October, 282.5 million in November and 285 million doses in December.

The health ministry, whose end-July target of supplying 516 million doses fell short, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Nadda’s projections.

India wants to vaccinate its entire adult population of 944 million by the end of this year. It has so far administered 528.6 million doses, giving at least one dose to about 44% of its adults, while 12% have had the required two doses.

India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker, thanks to the Serum Institute of India. The company stopped all exports of COVID-19 shots in April as the government asked it to divert supplies to the domestic inoculation drive as infections surged.

India has reported 32.11 million COVID-19 infections, the most after the United States, with about 430,000 deaths, though experts say these are gross underestimates.

(With Reuters inputs)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Aug 13, 2021 11:26 am

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