India may issue the licence for emergency use of some COVID-19 vaccines in the next four weeks.
The Pune-based Serum Institute, which is making and conducting trials of the vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca named Covishield, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, involved in developing an indigenous vaccine called Covaxine, and Pfizer, whose vaccine has been rolled out in the UK, have applied for emergency use licence, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.
“Once we get the green signal from our scientists, we’ll launch massive production of the vaccine. We have made all preparations and drawn an outline to ramp up production of vaccine and to make it available to each and every person in shortest possible time,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a press conference, India Today reported.
Some vaccine candidates may get licensed in four weeks. However, a decision on the issuing the licence will be taken by the regulator, Drugs Controller General of India, Bhushan said.
The government is actively considering the vaccines for which the licence has been sought, Niti Aayog member and head of the Centre’s task force for vaccines Dr VK Paul said.
An “early licensure is possible” in all the cases, he said.
He said the phase 3 trials of Russian-made Sputnik V will start this month.
Meanwhile, the process for administering the COVID-19 vaccine, when it is available, is ready, and each vaccination session will see 100 persons being given the vaccine and observed for 30 minutes to check for any adverse effects, according to a report on Tuesday (December 8).
The Indian Express, quoting top government sources, said there would be there separate rooms for the vaccination drive and both government and private medical facilities would be used for the immunisation drive, with frontline healthcare workers to receive the vaccine first.
“Therefore, in the guidelines, we have finalised that there will be three separate rooms in each vaccination centre,” a source was quoted by the newspaper.
“In the first room, the beneficiary will have to wait; the second room is where the actual vaccine administration will take place; and finally, they will be directed to the observation room, where they will have to sit for 30 minutes because some of the adverse reactions occur during this period,” the source added.
Bhushan said the government is preparing for launching the vaccination programme as soon as a vaccine becomes available. About 1 crore health workers involved in fighting COVID-19 will be vaccinated in the first phase, followed by 2 crore frontline workers like the police, armed forces, home guards, municipal workers, etc. About 27 crore senior citizens and those with other serious ailments and co-morbidities will be covered in the third phase.
Mobile technology for vaccination drive: PM
Speaking at the India Mobile Congress today, PM Modi said mobile technology will be used for immunisation drive. “It is also with the help of mobile technology that we will embark on one of the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive.”
Last month, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said healthcare workers and people above the age of 65 would be the early recipients of the vaccine.
“It is natural the vaccine distribution would have to be prioritised. As you know the healthcare workers who are corona warriors they will be prioritised, then people who are above 65 years of age they have been prioritised, then those from 50-65 years of age have been prioritised,” he said.
“Then those below 50 years who have other diseases. It is all being decided by experts with a scientific point of view. We have made a very detailed, meticulous plan on this. What we would have to do in March-April next year, we have started planning for it from now only,” Vardhan added.