Covering the 300 million people could take 7-8 months: VK Paul
It could take at least seven to eight months for the 300 million people identified by the Union government for vaccination against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to receive the vaccine in the first phase, said on Wednesday the member of NITI Aayog, Dr. VK Paul.
“We would have enough reserves to serve 300 million people in seven to eight months,” he said during the National Grand Rounds, a virtual platform for doctors to share knowledge about Covid-19 organized by the Institute of Medical Sciences of India ( AIIMS).
Paul, who was the head of the pediatrics department at AIIMS, was talking about the logistics of the large-scale vaccination campaign that India is going to start and how the priority groups: healthcare workers, front-line workers, seniors 50-year-olds and those with comorbid conditions – were selected for the first phase.
India’s drug controller approved two vaccines for emergency restricted use. While the one from Oxford University-AstraZeneca is being manufactured domestically by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the other is the locally developed candidate from Bharat Biotech.
“I will take whatever (vaccine) my state health department assigns me. I will take absolutely without hesitation; I am willing to take it in public whatever vaccine is thrown. And, if I had to choose … I have a preference for the vaccine that my AIIMS institution has tested, ”said Dr. Paul, referring to Covaxin from Bharat Biotech.
The government has faced questions about what critics called rushed approvals of the two vaccines, especially Covaxin, which has yet to release its phase III data. Bharat Biotech, however, has said that the vaccine is “200% safe.”
At the event, Vaccine Expert Dr Gagandeep Kang said: “Covaxin phase III data is likely to be available in March or April this year. The next vaccine to be approved will likely be the one developed by Gamaleya (Sputnik V) which is conducting a restricted trial such as the AstraZeneca vaccine. The full dataset is likely to be available in April. ”