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Indians may get first COVID-19 vaccine shot in January 2021: Health Minister

Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the reason behind the delayed vaccine rollout in India is that the government does not want to compromise on the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine.

December 20, 2020 / 10:31 PM IST

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said on December 20 that Indians may get their first COVID-19 vaccine shot in January 2021.

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Speaking to news agency ANI, the Health Minister said: “Our first priority has been safety & effectiveness of vaccines. We don't want to compromise on that. I personally feel, maybe in any week of January, we can be in a position to give first COVID vaccine shot to people of India.”

Earlier, Dr VK Paul, Head, National Expert Group on COVID-19 vaccination programme, had said that the Government of India plans to vaccinate at least 300 million people by August 2021. He had further said that the Centre will be teaming up with local and global firms to procure adequate doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

India has so far reported more than 10 million confirmed COVID-19 positive cases and over 1.5 lakh people have died of the disease in the country.

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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first published: Dec 20, 2020 10:31 pm