NEW DELHI: The central government estimates to receive and utilise 40-50 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine which will cover 20-25 crore people by July next year, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.
He said that the government is preparing a format for states to submit by October-end their list of priority population groups to receive the vaccine.
He said priority would be given to health workers engaged in Covid-19 management.
A high-level expert group is going into all aspects of the vaccines, he added.
“The centre is working on plans for building capacities in human resources, training, supervision and others on a massive scale and roughly estimates to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021. All this is under various stages of finalisation,” Vardhan said.
He further informed his audience that the government is also keeping an eye on immunity data for Covid-19 while finalising these plans.
“Our government is working round the clock to ensure that there is a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, once they are ready. Our utmost priority is how to ensure a vaccine for each and everybody in the country,” Vardhan said.
The minister stated that a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Niti Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul 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, he said.
Assuring that there would be no diversion or black-marketing of the vaccine, Vardhan said, “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.”
To a question regarding the phase-three clinical trial of Russia’s ‘Sputnik-V’ vaccine in India, Vardhan clarified that the matter was still under consideration and no decision had been taken yet.
To another question, he replied it is not possible to comment on the superiority of one vaccine over the other, but said, “Even if we have multiple vaccines available, they will all be safe and will elicit the requisite immune response against novel coronavirus.”
He said that all vaccines that have proven to be safe, immunogenic and efficacious in clinical trials outside India need to undergo bridging studies to prove their safety and immunogenicity in the Indian population as well, although these studies can be conducted with much smaller sample size and end quickly.