India expects to start vaccinating people with Covid-19 in January, government health officials told the BBC.
Officials – who asked not to be named – said a few potential vaccineers could get an emergency use permit from the drug regulator in the next few weeks.
Vaccine Approval Status
Two companies have already applied for consideration, and the other six are in various stages of clinical trials.
The vaccination program aims to reach 300 million people by early August.
India has recorded nearly 10 million cases of Covid-19, as well as more than 144,000 deaths from the disease to date. Vaccination programs are underway even if the infection shows signs of decline.
Covishield vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India, in partnership with British medical company AstraZeneca; and Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have already applied for accreditation.
Other nominees for the various stages of safety and efficiency testing trials include:
ZyCov-Di, developed by Zabadus-Cadila based in Ahmedabad
The vaccine was developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E, India’s first vaccine company, in partnership with MIT
HGCO19, India’s first mRNA vaccine developed by Pune-based Genova in partnership with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Corporation, uses pieces of genetic code to create immune responses
A nasal vaccine by Bharat BioTech
The second vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India and the American pharmaceutical company Novavax
Four of the eight vaccines were traditionally developed, officials said.
Officials also disputed media reports that India had pre-booked millions of volumes from many vaccine manufacturers around the world, saying they were already satisfied with the country’s shares.
One official said the government was “consulting with many drug makers in the country and abroad, informing them of our needs and finding their productive capacity”.
Two Indian vaccine manufacturers – the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, and Bharat Biotech – alone have the capacity to make 65 million doses a month, add.
India also has a “good stock” of vaccines, which could be “converted into containers” as soon as baptism candidates receive regulatory approval, officials said.
About 300 million Indians will be vaccinated between January and early August, officials said.
It will be started by about 10 million health workers, followed by police, soldiers, the municipality and other senior staff members.
The next groups to be vaccinated will include people above and under 50 with basic conditions and homicides, officials said.
India is already running the world’s largest immunization program, vaccinating newborns and more than 40 million pregnant women in 12 diseases each year. It also has an oily electronic system for storing and tracking these vaccines.
A Population Of One Billion
Officials said 153,000 nurses and midwives in the country and 223,000 people working in the program would be sent to supply Covid. Student final year nursing students will also be invited to volunteer.
A further 29,000 cold storage areas will be used to store these vaccines – almost all vaccines need to be transported and distributed between 2C and 8C in the so-called cold chain.
Authorities say cold storage facilities – up to 80C – are already available at most agricultural and livestock research centers in Haryana, Karnataka and West Bengal, among others.
There have been concerns about how India will monitor “adverse events” after being vaccinated after a dispute involving a vaccine volunteer who sued the Serum Institute of India after he reportedly fell ill following a trial.
“We will have to be transparent and address such adverse events. A standard operating procedure has been drawn up for that,” an official said.