The first stage of the coronavirus vaccine rollout has started with the Serum Institute of India – the maker of the University of Oxford’s Covishield – shipping its first batch of vials. The Union’s health ministry said the vaccination program, considered the largest in the world, was on track.
Four more COVID-19 vaccines are in development and their manufacturers may contact the Drugs Controller for emergency use authorization, the Department of Health. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Zydus Cadila, Sputnik V, Biological E and Gennova are other vaccines that are currently at an advanced stage of clinical trials in India. “In the next few days, you may see some of these vaccines approaching the medication controller for emergency use authorization as well,” Bhushan said.
There will be a 28-day gap between two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and its effectiveness will begin 14 days after the second dose, the health ministry said. Mr Bhushan said the efficacy of the vaccine would only be visible after 14 days. “We therefore urge people to continue to follow appropriate behavior at Covid,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Health, 110 lakh doses of Covishield are purchased at Rs 200 per dose (excluding tax). 55 lakh doses of Covaxin – developed by Bharat Biotech, based in Hyderabad – are also purchased. Both of these vaccines have been approved by the country’s drug regulatory body for restricted emergency use. Bharat Biotech charges Rs 295 per dose for 38.5 lakh doses. The company, which has partnered with the Indian Medical Research Council for the vaccine, will donate 16.5 lakh doses to the center for free.
The center has so far received 54.72,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine, the health ministry said.
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Pondicherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to allow political party leaders, ministers and lawmakers to be vaccinated in the first phase of the national campaign to vaccination against Covid-19.
“I wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to allow the leaders of political parties, ministers and legislators to be vaccinated in the first phase and to set an example so that the population can have confidence,” said Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy.
The Coronavac Covid-19 vaccine developed in China has demonstrated 50% effectiveness after tests in Brazil, said the organization in charge of its production in this South American country. Coronavac has been given to frontline healthcare workers in close contact with patients with coronavirus.
The Butantan Institute reiterated its claim last week that the vaccine is 78% effective in mild cases requiring treatment and has shown 100% effectiveness in moderate to severe cases. “It is a safe and effective vaccine that ticks all the boxes to justify its use in an emergency,” said Dimas Covas, director of Butantan.
Delhi Police have made adequate security arrangements in the city for the smooth transport of COVID-19 vaccines when the nationwide vaccination rollout begins later this week, officials said.
The first batch of Covishield vaccine containing 2.64 lakh doses reached Delhi central storage facility at Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) on Tuesday amid high security, they said.
The special commissioner of police (operations and licenses), Muktesh Chander, said the security force had ensured the proper transport of the vaccines from the airport to the RGSSH where adequate police arrangements had been made.
UK authorities have had to install temporary morgues in some areas after local hospital morgues ran out of space due to an increase in deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Britain has reported record levels of deaths and new infections in recent weeks, fueled by a new variant of the coronavirus which has caused an increase in cases, particularly in London and the south-east of England .
In Surrey, south London, county hospital morgues have reached capacity of 600, meaning local authorities have had to start using a temporary mortuary.