COVID-19 vaccine (representative image)
The government plans to vaccinate at least 300 million people by August 2021, said Dr VK Paul, the head of National Expert Group on COVID-19 vaccination. He said that the Centre would team up with local and global companies to secure adequate doses.
"Our aspiration to vaccinate 300 million people will depend on the availability of enough number of vaccines. We hope given our vaccine production and development, it’s possibly within our grasp. Our vision for vaccination in the first phase may be a liberal one but we need to do this much to lower mortality impact," Paul told ET NOW.
Read: COVID-19 vaccine: Expert panel to review Pfizer, Serum, Bharat Biotech's emergency use applications today
Paul also said that "this week was very important for the country’s vaccine plans". Pfizer, Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech have so far submitted applications for emergency use authorisation. A Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) expert panel will meet on December 9 to review the applications.
Paul also said that there was hope of early licence for all of them. "We are very optimistic that a vaccine will be available for the first phase of rollout very soon in the country. We so far have three vaccine candidates under consideration for licensing. There is hope that early licence is possible in respect of all of them or any one of them,” Paul added.
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At a press briefing on December 8, the NITI Aayog member (Health) said that the COVID-19 situation in India has stabilised. With active cases reducing, a "clear-cut declining trend" in the pandemic is being seen even though the situation in many other countries is becoming quite serious, he said.
Asked what steps would be followed by the DCGI in the absence of a water-tight emergency use authorisation law for granting a licence to vaccine makers, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said not all countries' regulatory framework or rules and acts mention emergency use authorisation.
Explained: What is emergency use approval, why is it done, how is it done, grey areas, and more
"So, the fact that this phrase is not used in the national regulatory framework of any country does not mean that a specific country would not have an enabling provision to accord an approval which is early and distinct from a regular market approval. India's regulatory framework has a specific provision for grant of emergency use authorisation, although this phrase is not used," he said.Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak