NEW DELHI: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, said that the country needs to have more than one COVID-19 vaccine to make it universally available. He also added that the authorities have to ensure that most vulnerable group of people are provided with the vaccine on priority.
Dr Vardhan said that considering the size of the population, one vaccine manufacturer would not be able to meet the requirements. Therefore, assessment to introduce more than one vaccine, according to the availability, is under process. He added that most of the COVID-19 vaccines in India are in phase 1,2 or 3 of trials, hence adequate data is required for emergency use of vaccine to ensure safety of patients.
He also ensured priority administration of vaccine in light of the anticipation of limited stock of vaccine at the beginning. They will be provided depending on the suitability of the vaccine in terms of the age pf patients. In his statement, Dr Vardhan said that prioritisation of the vaccine will be on the basis of occupational hazard, risk of exposure to infection and risk of exposure to severe diseases and increased mortality rate. Vaccines of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech are two-dose vaccines whereas Cadila’s vaccine is three-dose.
According to the information on World Health organisation (WHO) website, there almost 100 vaccines in the process of development. Various scientists, healthcare providers and businesses are in the race to manufacture a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 infection. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has granted the permission to seven manufacturers in India for the development of novel coronavirus vaccine. These are Serum Institute of India, Pune; Cadila Healthcare, Ahmedabad; Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad; Biological E Ltd in Hyderabad; Reliance Life Sciences Private Limited, Mumbai; Aurobindo Pharma Limited, Hyderabad; and Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited, Pune.
Dr Vardhan has also announced Feluda, a low-cost testing method of COVID-19 made in India, which will produce results in nearly an hour. This is expected to be available for use in the next few weeks and is as accurate as Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain reaction (RT-PCR) test. It is developed by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research- Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB).