The research for a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine is still on. According to a senior official, the frontline workers will be the first ones to get vaccinated in India when a vaccine is available.
Dr. Vinod Paul, member of Niti Aayog and the head of a panel advising the prime minister on the country’s efforts to produce and roll-out the inoculation, according to Bloomberg.
“Health workers, both in public and private sectors across rural and urban India are fighting the battle. Also, municipal workers and police people fighting everywhere should be a priority,” he added.
While the center has started planning to acquire COVID-19 vaccines directly from the drug manufacturers and have to distribute them among the priority group under a special coronavirus immunisation programme, according to reports.
The process of identification around 30 crore priority beneficiaries has been already started by the central government.
Paul said the national vaccine distribution plan is being formulated with the assumption that limited volumes of the inoculation will be available in the first few months of production.
“Even if you put together the best capacities, they won’t be sufficient. The most optimistic scenario is that it will take six months to a year to reach everyone,” he said.
Four categories of people for vaccination in the initial phase has been demarcated, among which there are around one crore healthcare professionals including doctors, MBBS students, nurses, and ASHA workers, etc.; around two crore frontline workers including municipal corporation workers, personnel of the police and armed forces; about 26 crore people aged above 50; and a special group of those below 50 years of age with co-morbidities and requiring specialized care.
According to Bloomberg’s report, India has set aside about ₹50,000 crores at an estimated ₹500 per person to vaccinate the world’s second-most populous nation.
While Paul said on pricing, that it is too early to discuss costs. “We are working within parameters,” he said. “Resources will not be a constraint,” he added.
Currently, three vaccine candidates are, at different phases of trial in India. Two homegrown vaccine candidates are Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila has already started the phase II clinical trial.
Another vaccine candidate, Covishield, developed by the University of Oxford has recently commenced the phase III clinical trial in India
Covaxin has received the drug regulator’s approval to start the large scale phase III clinical trial in the country. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories will soon start phase II clinical trials of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.