Covid-19 vaccine update: India to immunise 250 million citizens, US vaccinations might begin in December
Hopes for an early arrival of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) have been rekindled as various vaccine candidates are in the middle or beginning of late-stage trials. Meanwhile, the total number of people who have contracted the disease globally is at 58.9 million, while nearly 1.4 million have lost their lives due to it, as per a worldometers tally.
In the latest update for a coronavirus vaccine, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday expressed confidence that Bharat Biotech International Limited’s vaccine candidate, Covaxin, could complete its trials in a “month or two.” A top official in the United States, meanwhile, said the US might begin vaccinations in December, in what is the world’s worst-hit nation.
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Here are the latest updates on the Covid-19 vaccine front:
1. Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday reiterated the government plans to immunise 200 million to 250 million citizens by next July. “We are in the process of developing our indigenous vaccines, in the process of completing our third-phase trials in the next one or two months,” the minister said on Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which started its third-phase trials last week. Covaxin is among five vaccine candidates undergoing trials in India and the only indigenous candidate among them. Bharat Biotech has partnered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to develop the candidate.
2. In the United States, Moncef Slaoui, head of the US government’s virus vaccine effort, said the country might begin its vaccination programme by December 11-12. Speaking to CNN, Slaoui said the plan is to be “able to ship vaccines to immunisation sites within 24 hours of approval” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 20 million people across the US could be vaccinated next month, with a further 30 million per month after that, Slaoui further estimated.
3. Pfizer may have applied for emergency use authorisation (EUA) of its vaccine candidate in the United States but it is the United Kingdom which could give regulatory approval before the US does, the Telegraph has reported. While EUA in the US is expected to be given in December, the UK could give its approval this week, the report said. Pfizer has developed its vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech SE.
4. The official Twitter account of Russia’s vaccine candidate Sputnik V on Sunday said the price per dose of the vaccine would be “much lower” than that of vaccines of American firms Moderna and Pfizer. “Translating pharma lingo: the announced price of Pfizer of USD 19.50 and Moderna of USD 25-USD 37 per dose actually means their price of USD 39 and USD 50-USD 74 per person. Two doses are required per person for the Pfizer, Sputnik V and Moderna vaccines. The price of Sputnik V will be much lower,” the official account said.
(With agency inputs)
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