Regulators to clear both vaccins soon
by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
New Delhi, Jan 2
With the Emergency approval granted to Covaxin, jointly produced by Bharat Biotech-Indian Council of Medical Research late in the evening today, India has got another shot in its arm.
Covaxin is the country's 100% indigenous vaccine while Covidshield of Seerum Institute, Pune-Astrozeneca, UK was approved yesterday by the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) yesterday. The SEC cleared the Covaxin today.
However, the formal approval of both the vaccines by the drug regulator Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is yet to be granted.
While Seerum Institute has said that it already has stock-piled 40-50 million doses which it can supply to the Government of India by March this year itself, the authorities have not reacted to the proposal so far. In fact, the government has not signed any contract with the Seerum for the supply of Covidshield so far.
Neither Dr V K Paul who is head of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Vaccine management nor the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said anything so far as to which vaccine will be injected/inoculated to the 3 crore frontline health workers and other related categories.
Whether the government will buy the Covidshield or Covaxin or a combination of both the vaccines for the Emergency usage, is still being worked out.
For three crore frontline workers, India will need 60 million doses as every person has to be given two doses. As per the estimates, these three crore priority workers can be covered during the next four-five months. There is a strong possibility that the government may now involve the private sector in the entire vaccination drive.
If the other population is also to be vaccinated at the earliest, the government will take a decision at the highest level.
Secondly, the CDSCO and DCGI have yet to approve Covidshield and Covaxin. Once these medical bodies clear these vaccines for usage, various government institutions including the ministries of Health and others will take up follow-up action and allocate funds accordingly.
Sources say that the government will start the process around Makar Sankranti day on January 14 or so.