India May Inoculate Priority Groups Against Covid By June 2021: Fitch Solutions
A Covid-19 vaccine may cover priority groups in India by June next year if the inoculation rises rapidly to about the same level as the one million coronavirus tests that are performed each day in the country, Fitch Solutions said Monday.
“India’s role in the global launch of the Covid-19 vaccine will be significant both as a recipient of the drug and as a producer,” Fitch said in a report.
India, he said, has one of the largest vaccine manufacturing capabilities in the world (including the largest vaccine producer, Serum Institute India, SII) and has obtained authorization to mass-produce AstraZeneca, Novavax and Gamaleya Research Institute vaccines.
With a population of 130 million rupees (and 9.4 million rupees over the age of 65), the national vaccination campaign will be the largest in the world.
“The country has a good record of campaigns of this type, with masses of the population regularly receiving the vaccine for various diseases such as polio and cholera,” he said.
The launch of the vaccine in India will begin in the first quarter of 2021 (January to March), with frontline healthcare workers and people over 50 years old taking priority.
Fitch said the government aims to vaccinate about 25 million people over a period of six to eight months, which is “a high target.”
“However, if India can rapidly ramp up vaccines to roughly the same level as the one million (10 lakh) Covid-19 tests it conducts each day, then we expect coverage among priority groups to be achieved by June 2021. “, said.
Risks to this prospect include the large scale of the project and with relatively weak health care institutions and infrastructure, these challenges could result in slower implementation than expected, he added.
Access to Covid-19 vaccines will vary significantly in Asia depending on the advance purchase agreements that a given country has reached with vaccine developers.
Developed markets have generally bought access to vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, smaller countries with strong health systems will have an advantage in vaccine deployment.
“Vaccine access for emerging markets is likely to be more diverse with a bigger role for supplying China and Russia and their candidates for state-developed vaccines. We see that some markets have already started mass vaccination with limited data from phase III trials available, ”Fitch said.
He said multiple Covid-19 vaccines are expected by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
The first approval of the Covid-19 vaccine (based on Phase III data) was announced on December 2, 2020 by the UK drug regulator, MHRA.
“We expect more approvals from various national regulators and for different vaccines in late 2020 and during 2021 as candidates reach clinical endpoints,” he said, adding that many of the vaccines use the same approach to target the spike protein of the structure of the virus, an approach that has proven successful so far.
The initial distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, he said, is likely to be diverted to wealthier nations according to advance purchase agreements (APAs).
“We believe this is largely due to the affordability and business approach taken by vaccine developers, who will be the first to get approval,” he said. “This issue also applies to Asia, where some countries have ensured access to vaccines while others have not.” For countries with confirmed supply, vaccines are scheduled to start with priority populations comprised of frontline healthcare workers, populations over 65, and people with underlying health problems. Epidemiological data shows that these groups (along with those aged 50 to 65) account for around 99 percent of the preventable mortality from Covid-19 and a large proportion of hospitalizations.
“We hope that as these populations gradually achieve protection, governments eager to return to economic normality will seek to begin easing restrictions,” Fitch said. “Different countries will enact this relaxation at different rates depending on the progress of the vaccine launch.”