The Union Health Ministry has asked all states to conduct a dry run for COVID vaccine on Saturday, January 2. This is seen as an indication that the government may approve a vaccine sooner than anticipated.
Also read: PM Modi says preparation for COVID vaccine ‘in last stages’
Drugs Controller General Dr VG Somani said on Thursday (December 31): “Probably, we will have a new year with something in hand”. Somani’s statement came ahead of an important meeting of the expert panel on emergency use vaccine authorisation scheduled for Friday (January 1). The panel will vet the applications of three companies — the Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer.
‘Covishield’, developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute, is the frontrunner because it recently received an approval for emergency use from the United Kingdom.
This is the second dry run being conducted in the country. The first one was successfully held on December 28 and 29 in four states.
In a dry run, participants get dummy COVID vaccine shots to test the mechanisms and find out possible loopholes in the system ahead of the actual vaccination drive.
On Thursday (December 31), while laying the foundation stone for an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rajkot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Preparations are in the last stages for the vaccination programme against COVID-19. People will get a vaccine manufactured in India.”
Modi also coined a Hindi slogan for 2021: “Dawai bhi, kadaai bhi”, which means that despite there being a vaccine, people should still follow safety protocols.
AIIMS Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that the approval by the UK government for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is “a big step forward”, adding that once SII shows data to DCGI, “they should get approval for the vaccine in India within a few days.”