Covid-19 vaccine expected in early 2021, distribution plan in works: Harsh Vardhan

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India is likely to have a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) by early next year and it will possibly come from several sources, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said in a meeting of the Group of Ministers on Tuesday, according to news agency ANI.

“We’re expecting that early next year we should have vaccine in the country from maybe more than one source. Our expert groups are formulating strategies to plan on how to roll out the distribution of the vaccine in the country,” the health minister was quoted as saying by ANI.

The World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has also said that a vaccine will be ready for registration by the end of 2020 or early next year at the earliest.

“As you know, we have about 40 vaccine candidates now in some stage of clinical trials, and 10 of them are in the phase three trials, which are the late-stage clinical trials, which will tell us about both the efficacy and the safety,” she said.

Vardhan had earlier said that the government is working in collaboration with the state governments to collect data so as to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, once they are ready. “Our utmost priority is how to ensure a vaccine for each and everybody in the country,” he had said.

In the latest episode of weekly Sunday Samwad, the health minister informed the citizens about the key factors that will be taken into account to ascertain the priority groups. “Prioritisation of groups to be vaccinated shall be based on key considerations, first is occupational hazard at the risk of exposure to the infection and second is the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality,” he said.

On the number of vaccines that will be available, the health minister on Sunday said that given the population size of the country, India may have to tie up with more than one vaccine manufacturer to ensure that everyone is able to access the shot. “All Covid-19 vaccines currently in India are in the phases 1, 2 or 3 of trials with results awaited. Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorization vaccine approval for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will be based on data generated,” he added.

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