PM Modi reviews preparations for large-scale Covid-19 vaccination exerciseUpdated: Jul 01, 2020 02:16 IST
A day after India’s first Covid-19 vaccine candidate received the central drugs controller’s approval for human clinical trials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reviewed India’s preparations for vaccinating its vast population against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) once a vaccine becomes available.
Vaccination must be affordable and universal, Modi said. At a high-level meeting, he directed officials to start work on a detailed plan for carrying out such large exercise in the country of 1.3 billion people and review preparations in place for vaccination against the viral disease that has infected at least 10 million and killed 508,876 across the globe. In India, the disease has infected 566,840 people and caused 16,893 deaths.
On Monday, Bharat Biotech said it had received the drug controller’s approval for carrying out human trials on a vaccine it developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. The trials are expected to begin in July, the company said.
ICMR-NIV researchers managed to isolate and culture 11 strains from swab samples in early February from initial Covid-19 patients in Kerala that could be used to develop vaccines and aid research.
Vaccination of India’s vast and diverse population will need to factor in issues including those related to management of medical supply chains, prioritisation of at-risk populations, coordination between different agencies involved in the process, as well as the role of private sector and civil society, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The government has allocated ₹100 crores from the PM-CARES (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations) Fund to support the initiative to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). There are as many as 25 vaccine development initiatives underway in India, across academic institutions, industry, and start-ups, according to the department of biotechnology that is one of the agencies spearheading the research work on Covid-19 management.
The PM focused on four guiding principles that will form the foundation of this national effort: such as vulnerable groups should be identified and prioritised for early vaccination; vaccination of anyone anywhere should take place without imposition of any domicile-related restrictions; must be affordable and universal; no person should be left behind; and the entire process from production to vaccination should be monitored and supported in real time with the use of technology.
Vulnerable groups include doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, non-medical frontline Covid-19 warriors, and vulnerable people among the general population.
Globally, there are 13 experimental vaccines in clinical trials and another 129 in the preclinical evaluation stage, according to the World Health Organisation’s draft landscape of Covid-19 vaccines.
The PM directed officials to evaluate available technology options that can form the backbone of the national endeavour to vaccinate all the population in the most efficient and timely manner.