First ‘wave’ of COVID-19 vaccination to cover 30 crore Indians
About 30 crore people will be part of the first “wave” to get the COVID-19 vaccine in India. They consist of health care workers, police personnel, those above 50 and those younger with underlying illnesses that make them vulnerable, said Principal Scientific Adviser K. VijayRaghavan.
He was speaking at a meeting organised by the Science Ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry on Thursday. Mr. VijayRaghavan said the national vaccine committee, headed by Dr. V.K. Paul, had finalised a broad blueprint.
He said from “March to May” vaccines were likely to be available in significant numbers and would be progressively rolled out over the years using the national immunisation programme.
“There are one crore health workers, frontline workers such as State and central police, armed forces, home guards, civil defence about 2 crore; priority groups above the age of 50 because you are including those with significant challenges as India has a large fraction of those with cardiovascular disease and diabetes — that’s about 26 crore — and finally those below 50 with significant comorbidities, about 1 crore. So that’s nearly 30 crore,” Mr. VijayRaghavan said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked State governments to set up steering committees and block-wise task forces to prepare for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and disbursal.
Vaccines will be available when they pass regulatory stages and it still wasn’t clear which vaccine candidates would pass all the required criteria and by what date, Mr. Modi had said at his meeting with Chief Ministers.
“It will be a large scale enterprise looking at the size of our country and keeping in mind our experience with large immunisation campaigns, we want this to be a smooth exercise with great co-ordination with State governments, who are the best judge of how things are to be done in particular States,” he had said.
First quarter of 2021
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said a COVID-19 vaccine was likely to be available by the first quarter of 2021 and that the Centre estimates to receive and utilise 40-50 crore doses covering around 25 crore people by July next year.
There are five potential vaccines are under different phases of clinical trials in India with the Serum Institute of India conducting phase-3 trial of the Oxford-Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine while the indigenously developed Bharat Biotech and ICMR vaccine have already started the phase III clinical trials.
An indigenously developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila had completed phase-2 clinical trial in the country and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories would be beginning combined phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in India. Biological E. Ltd has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
(with inputs from The Hindu and PTI)
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