The Covid vaccine will be in India in a few weeks: PM Modi
India will receive a Covid-19 vaccine in a few weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday while briefing political leaders on preparations for “cheap and safe” Made in India vaccines, assuring them that immunization would begin as soon as scientists gave a forward.
“There are 8 potential vaccines in different stages of trials and their production will be in India. Three indigenous vaccines are also at different levels of testing. Experts believe there won’t be long to wait for a Covid vaccine. It is believed that a Covid vaccine will be ready in the coming weeks. As soon as the scientists give the green signal, immunization will start in India, ”said the prime minister, addressing a virtually all-party meeting.
Modi’s remarks, two days after the UK authorization for the Pfizer dose, were viewed by some as an indication that emergency approval may be accelerated for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being produced by the Serum Institute of India. . The other two local vaccines are unlikely to be ready in that time frame: Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has started phase 3, but the results have yet to be published; Zydus Cadila plans to start the final trails in December.
On Saturday (Nov 28), SII Executive Director Adar Poonawalla said that SII could apply for emergency approval of the vaccine within two weeks..
Data from final trials in the UK and Brazil have shown the vaccine to be between 62% and 90% effective, depending on the dose.
The prime minister assured political leaders that Indian vaccines will be cheap but safe. He insisted on dispelling the rumors because “they are never in the public interest or in the national interest” and, for the first time, he released the priority list of beneficiaries.
“A few days ago, I had very successful conversations with scientists involved in Made in India vaccines. Our scientists have a high level of confidence and expect success. We are hearing names of some foreign vaccines on the market. But the world is looking for the cheapest but safest vaccine. And that is why it is natural for the world to look to India as well. “
At HT’s leadership summit, Poonawala said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be available to the general public in April-May next year and is likely to cost around Rs 500-600 for one dose to the general public. . He added that the vaccine could cost less, at $ 3-4 (Rs 220-295), when sold to the government.
Officials involved in planning argued that while indigenous vaccines are the preferred candidates, the acquisition of other vaccines cannot be ruled out, as it all depends on the results of the trial. “But as of now, we are hopeful of immunizing 290 million people or the top three priority groups with Made in India vaccines,” said a senior official familiar with the matter.
Modi made it clear that India will use its existing universal immunization network to deliver the vaccines. “India has experience and capacity in vaccine distribution; we are better than other countries in these areas. We have an extensive and experienced vaccination network and we will make the most of it. ” On Tuesday, HT reported that India will use the cold storage facilities and 1.5 lakh of vaccines from this network.
The prime minister also announced that in the first stage (which will last for the first six months) priority will be given in immunization to healthcare workers, frontline workers and the elderly with comorbidities according to the suggestions of the states. . But he also added that current anti-Covid protocols should be continued, especially social distancing and masks.
All leaders who spoke at the meeting supported the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic and offered help to address any misinformation. They suggested strengthening cold chains in remote areas and incorporating states. Modi assured leaders that he has kept top state ministers on board, adding that the Center and the states are working together on the vaccine distribution area. He said that efforts are being made to increase the cold chain infrastructure and that some new schemes and programs have been launched to this end, a reference to amendments to the CSR rules that allow companies to spend their CSR funds to the development and distribution of vaccines.
Companies Act requires that companies with a net worth of Rs 500 million or more, or a turnover of Rs 1 billion or more, or a net profit of Rs 5 million or more in the immediately preceding financial year, spend obligatorily 2% of your net average. profit from the previous three years in CSR.
The prime minister praised India’s way of tackling the pandemic, saying that on various parameters such as the number of daily tests or death rates, India has fared better than advanced nations. India’s current fatality rate is 1.4%, compared to 2.3% in the world. “India’s fight against Covid reflects the fiery willpower of every Indian. We have fared better than many developed countries with advanced medical infrastructure. Our self-discipline, courage, and resources have been incredible throughout this war. We have not only thought of our own people, but we have also helped other countries, ”Modi said. But he also said that even when we are at the gates of vaccines, “it takes the same participation of people, the same scientific approach and coordination.”