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COVAX for 25 crore people by July 2021, Groundwork on

Cente to ensure no diversion or black marketing

Vaccines will be distributed as per pre-decided priority and in a programmed manner. To ensure transparency and accountability, details of the entire process will be shared in the coming months, says Dr Harsh Vardhan

NEW DELHI, Oct 4 (BNC Network) The Centre is working on plans for building capacities in HR, training and supervision  on a massive scale to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses of COVID vaccine covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, said.

Responding to questions during his fourth edition of social media interaction - Sunday Samvaad – Dr Harsh Vardhan said the Government is also keeping an eye on immunity data with regard to COVID-19 disease while finalizing these plans.

The Minister assured that there would be no diversion or black-marketing, “Vaccines will be distributed as per pre-decided priority and in a programmed manner. To ensure transparency and accountability, details of the entire process will be shared in the coming months.” He stressed the need to prioritize health care workers and adults or those have underlying health conditions.

Sharing his views on single-dose vs. double-dose vaccines, the Minister accepted that for quick control of a pandemic, it is desirable to have a single-dose vaccine. However, it is often difficult to achieve desired levels of immune protection using a single dose. He added, two-dose vaccines are suitable for attaining the desired immunogenicity as the first dose gives some immune protection, and the second dose augments it further.

On the questions of prioritising the distribution of vaccines, he said the Health Ministry is currently preparing a format in which States will submit lists of priority population groups to receive vaccine, especially health workers engaged in the management of COVID19. The list of frontline health workers will include both government as well as private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, ASHA workers, surveillance officers and many other occupational categories who are involved in tracing, testing and treatment of patients. This exercise is targeted to be completed by the end of this October and the States are being closely guided to also submit details about cold chain facilities and other related infrastructure which will be required down to the block level.

He stated that there is a high level committee under the chairmanship of Niti Aayog Member (Health)  VK Paul which is drawing up the entire process. Vaccine procurement is being done centrally and each consignment will be tracked real time until delivery to ensure it reaches those who need it most. These Committees are working on understanding the timelines of availability of various vaccines in the country, obtaining commitments from vaccine manufacturers to make available maximum number of doses for India inventory and supply chain management and also on prioritisation of high-risk groups. This is work in progress which will be completed by the time the vaccines are ready to ensure the swift roll-out of the immunisation program.

While tackling a question on the level playing field for various clinical trials, Dr Harsh Vardhan shared that all proposed clinical trials in India are designed using set principles and are stringently reviewed by the Subject Expert Committee set up by the Drug Controller General of India. Recently, the DCGI has also formulated draft guidelines on regulatory requirements for licensure of COVID-19 vaccines in India. On a question regarding Phase 3 Clinical Trial of Russia’s “Sputnik-V” vaccine in India, Dr Harsh Vardhan clarified that the matter is still under consideration, and no decision has been taken as yet on the Phase 3 trials.

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