Ready for vaccine roll-out on 16 Jan, COVID-appropriate behaviour important even after inoculation: Health Ministry

India's drug regulator has approved two vaccines — Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield manufactured by SII and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin— for restricted emergency use and the Centre has said that the vaccine roll out will begin from 16 January.

FP Staff January 12, 2021 17:40:19 IST
Ready for vaccine roll-out on 16 Jan, COVID-appropriate behaviour important even after inoculation: Health Ministry

Representational image. PTI

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday said that the Centre has entered into a procurement agreement with the Serum Insititute of India for 110 lakh doses of Covishield and 55 lakh doses of Covaxin will be procured from Bharat Biotech and that all of the doses will be received by 14 January.

Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said all the shots, consisting of 1.1 crore doses from Serum Institute of India (SII) and 55 lakh doses from Bharat Biotech India Limited, will be received in all states and UTs by Thursday.

India's drug regulator has approved two vaccines — Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield manufactured by SII and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin— for restricted emergency use and the Centre has said that the vaccine roll out will begin from 16 January.

Both the vaccines have established safety and immunogenicity through a well prescribed regulatory process, the health secretary said at Tuesday's briefing.

Giving information on the prices of the vaccine, Bhushan said that the 110 lakh doses of Covishield will be procured at Rs 200 per dose (excluding taxes). Bharat Biotech will provide 16.50 lakh doses of Covaxin free of cost to the Central Government as a special gesture, while the rest of the 38.5 lakh doses are priced at Rs 295 per dose, the health secretary said. Therefore, Covaxin costs Rs 206 per dose.

Bhushan reiterated that the vaccines will be rolled out sequentially as there will be limited availability at first and added that healthcare workers (around 1 crore) will be the top priority, followed by frontline workers (approximately two crore) and prioritised age groups (numbering approximately 27 crore). Cost of health care workers and frontline workers will be borne by the Centre, he reiterated.

Giving an overview of the other vaccine trials in India, the health secretary said that there are four vaccines, whose R&D is being conducted in India or will be manufactured in India, these are in the pipeline and there is a possibility that they will be available soon.

"In the coming days you may see some of these vaccines too approaching the drug controller for emergency use authorisation," Bhushan said.

He informed that Phase-II trials of Zydus Cadila were completed in December, the third stage trials have been permitted by the drug regulator and will be beginning this month. He further said that Gamaleya Institute's Sputnik V's Phase-II trials in partnership with Dr Reddy's Lab have been completed, Phase- III trials are underway and it will be manufactured in India.The Phase 1 trials of  Biological E  started in December and Phase-II trials may begin in March.

The Phase-I trials of Gennova have been approved and has begun and its Phase-II trials may begin in March, he said.

The health secretary also gave an overview of the prices of other vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available for $19.50 per dose (Rs 1,431) excluding overhead costs and taxes and has to be stored at -70 degree, he said.

Moderna's vaccine is available for Rs 2,348-Rs 2,715 per dose while Sinopharm is available for more than Rs 5,650 per dose. China's Sinopharm vaccine is available at over Rs. 5,650 he said.

The Sinovac Biotech vaccine is available for Rs 1,027 per dose while Novavax vaccine is available for Rs 1,114 per dose. Gamaleya Institute's Sputnik V and the Johnson&Johnson vaccine are available at Rs 734 per dose.

All the above-listed vaccines, except the Pfizer one, can be stored at 2 to 8 Degrees Centigrade, he said.

The Centre is having close collaboration with States/UTs for vaccine roll-out and all preparations are on track for vaccine roll-out from 16 January, the health secretary asserted.

Listing the expectations from state and UT governments, Bhushan said all logistics should be ready for vaccination roll-out from 16 January.

States will exercise continuous oversight and personal involvement on the entire process and there should be a special focus on communication activities and utilisation of all types of channels to create an encouraging environment, that vaccines are safe and immunogenic, he said.

"It is important because we need to ensure that as we proceed, this is monitored at every level in state as well as UTs. This will ensure all target populations get the vaccine and there is no wastage because we have started getting news of wastage happening in western countries.

"This will also ensure everyone knows what they are supposed to do. There are roughly over 50 countries in the world where vaccination has started but all of them have populations less than ours. So our challenge is much greater and therefore we need to be more prepared," Bhushan said.

Stating that the effectiveness of the vaccines begins only 14 days after the second dose, Bhushan emphasised on the need to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour after the first as well as  the second dose. The two doses will be given 28 days apart, he said.

Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog said cases are falling and more significantly deaths have also been falling . He said the country is holding the CFR and this is a consistent pattern but cautioned against lowering the guard.

Paul also sought to assure that both the vaccines approved in India are safe and immunogenic and also said that they are affordable. He said that the vaccines have been tested in thousands of people and side effects are negligible. "There’s no risk of significance. Let's be reassured," he said.

"The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has decided to accept and support the two indigenously developed vaccines (Covishield and  Covaxin). I would like to thank them for this," he said

At beginning of the briefing, Bhushan said that the coronavirus situation is still worrisome across the world, and the graph is climbing in US, UK, Brazil and South Africa.

"In India, active cases continue to decline in a steady manner. The daily new cases have touched a new low today and stands at 2,16,558," he stated.

In India, last 24 hours, 12,584 new cases were reported, The Hindu quoted him as saying.  However, active cases continue to decline in India and it is now less than 2.2 lakh.

Only two states with more than 50,000 cases contribute 54 percent of the active cases, Bhushan said. In Kerala the number of active cases are 63,547 and in Maharashtra, they are 53,463, he said.

Only 43.96 percent of the active cases are in hospitals, while the 56.04 percent are in home isolation, he informed.

 

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