The government has trained 2,360 master trainers, who in turn have trained 61,000 programme managers, 200,000 vaccinators and 370,000 other vaccination team members so far. (Representative Image)
The government has trained 2,360 master trainers, who in turn have trained 61,000 programme managers, 200,000 vaccinators and 370,000 other vaccination team members so far. (Representative Image)

People won’t be given vaccine choice: Govt

Both vaccine candidates have won approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) although Covaxin is still in Phase 3 trials.
UPDATED ON JAN 13, 2021 01:38 AM IST

Vaccine recipients will not get to choose which shot they take, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc., or Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin, which it has developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), for protection against Covid-19.

Both vaccine candidates have won approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) although Covaxin is still in Phase 3 trials.

“Several countries in the world are using more than one Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate their citizens. In none of these countries are beneficiaries being offered an option of choosing which vaccine to take,” said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday.

Recipients will get two doses of a vaccine four weeks apart.

“The current recommendations are very clear that it will be given at day zero and at day 28, four weeks apart, and as has been pointed out, the effect will come after two weeks. At the moment we are just considering 0 to 28 days, and we would like to focus on that,” said Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of ICMR.

“There is some literature in the world which is showing that you can give up to six weeks {apart}, and some countries are also discussing whether it can be given at a bigger gap but at the moment we would like to stick to four weeks, and would like our first phase {of vaccination} to be at four weeks till more knowledge is attained,” he added.

The government is looking at staggering the procurement of vaccine doses rather than placing a bulk order even as both the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have stockpiled enough vials to meet initial demand in the country, which will immunise 30 million health-care and front-line workers at the vanguard of the fight against Covid-19 before turning its attention to 270 million people aged above 50 and those with comorbidities.

“We would be staggering our supply orders. We are aware of this, and people who are manufacturing and supplying the vaccine are also aware of it,” said Bhushan.

The Indian government has procured 11 million doses of Covishield from Serum Institute at a cost of 200 per dose, exclusive of taxes. Of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the number is 5.5 million doses, of which 1.65 million doses are being procured free of cost, and the remaining 3.85 million doses are being purchased at a cost of 295 per dose, exclusive of taxes, making the net cost of a Covaxin dose 206 per dose.

“We wanted to share the prices so that the less than adequately informed discussions on the topic should end,” said Bhushan.

Meanwhile, preparations are in full swing for the launch of the vaccination drive across the country on January 16. Close to 30 virtual meetings have been held between the Centre and states to review preparations.

“The Centre is very closely collaborating with the states and Union territories for rolling out the vaccination on January 16, 2021. Since different individuals will be discharging different duties they need to be trained as per the best of their ability,” said Bhushan.

The government has trained 2,360 master trainers, who in turn have trained 61,000 programme managers, 200,000 vaccinators and 370,000 other vaccination team members so far.

“Each vaccination team will have five members, of which there will be one vaccinator. The four other team members also need to be adequately trained which is why so many people had to be trained for the launch… this exercise will last may be for beyond one year..,” Bhushan added.

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