The global hunt for a vaccine to tame COVID-19 continues with trials of multiple vaccine candidates happening simultaneously around the world, which waits with hope that prevention to the deadly disease is finally within reach.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress in vaccine development on Saturday. “Held a meeting to review India’s vaccination strategy and the way forward. Important issues related to progress of vaccine development, regulatory approvals and procurement were discussed,” Modi tweeted.
Modi sought specific information on prioritisation of population groups, how to reach out to health care workers, cold-chain infrastructure and what role does technology play in rolling out the vaccine.
In the last review meeting, the Prime Minister had reviewed the Union Health Ministry’s preparedness vis-à-vis distribution and delivery of vaccines, procurement, bulk-stockpiling etc.
Looking at the expanse of the task and geographical span of the country, Modi suggested the vaccine delivery system could likely be developed on the lines of conducting elections. He said distributing the vaccine should involve government machinery at all levels and also the civil society, just like in elections. The whole process should be supported by a strong IT system,, he said.
Vaccine progress in US
On Saturday, Pfizer applied to the US health regulators for emergency-use authorisation of its coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer has scientific evidence to believe its vaccine is 95 per cent effective at preventing mild to severe cases of COVID-19.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may grant permission to Pfizer since it promises protection and the company has a good safety record. The company has applied for permissions in Europe and the UK as well.
About 25 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine may become available on December, 30 million in January and 35 million more in February and March, according to information presented to the National Academy of Medicine. Recipients will need two doses, three weeks apart.
The status in India
Bharat Biotech International plans to enroll about 2,000 people each in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata for phase-3 trials of its Covaxin vaccine.
“Interested volunteers staying in the same city or near the clinical trial study site can meet/contact the principal investigator or co-investigator for participating in the clinical trial. The principal investigator will recruit the participant based on the protocol defined eligibility criteria,” the company was quoted as saying by Mint.
A statement issued by Bharat Biotech stated that people below 18 years of age or those who tested Covid positive will not be eligible for the trial. Besides, participation in the trial is voluntary and the participants will not be paid anything, other than travel fare.
Meanwhile, the third phase of human trials of Covaxin are on in Odisha.