Stage set for vaccine roll-out as Covaxin adds to supplies
As the first supplies of Bharat Biotech International’s coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, Covaxin, were dispatched from its Hyderabad base on Wednesday, the Centre intends to instruct state administrations on the number of sites where it should be deployed, a top government official said on condition of anonymity.
It will be up to the governments to decide the locations of the sites where Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine Bharat Biotech has developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) , will be administered..
“The Centre will communicate to the states the number of vaccination sites where Covishield and Covaxin will be deployed respectively. The states will decide the specific sites, that is site names, on their own where the vaccine supply is to be directed,” said the official, who is involved in the vaccine delivery process.
Bharat Biotech announced in a statement on Wednesday that the company had shipped Covaxin to 11 cities: Ganavaram, Guwahati, Patna, Delhi, Kurukshetra, Bengaluru, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chennai and Lucknow.
Although 5.5 million doses of Covaxin have been procured by the government, the company did not disclose how many had been shipped on Wednesday.
“After having received the government purchase order for 55 lakh doses, Bharat Biotech shipped the first batch of vaccines (each vial containing 20 doses)… While some shipments have arrived in the respective cities, others will be delivered later this evening. Covaxin is a highly purified and inactivated 2 dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, manufactured in a Vero cell manufacturing platform with an excellent safety track record of more than 300 million doses,” the company said in a statement.
Most of the states that have received Covaxin will be administering it in bigger health-care facilities such as medical colleges so that adverse reactions after immunisation, if any, are better tracked.Covaxin is still in Phase 3 trials, and is to be administered in a clinical trial mode, according to a condition in its regulatory approval.
“As per the Centre’s guideline, Covaxin is to be sent to bigger facilities, which for us will mean medical colleges. I will discuss it with the principal secretary and firm up a vaccine distribution plan tomorrow,” said Manoj Kumar, executive director of the State Health Society, Bihar, who is also the state nodal officer for the Covid-19 vaccination.
Bihar has received 1,000 vials of Covaxin that is equal to 20,000 doses.
Individual consent has to be taken before administering Covaxin to any heath-care workers who will be vaccinated in the first phase of immunisation from January 16, added Kumar.
In Odisha, Covaxin will be administered to 9,000 health-care workers.
“Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech will be administered to 9,000 front-line health-workers in Bhubaneswar while Covishield of Serum Institute of India will be given to shortlisted people in all other districts across the state,” said Dr Bijay Panigrahi, nodal officer for Covid vaccination in Odisha.
Even though 1.65 million vaccine doses were given by Bharat Biotech to the government of India for free, the total number of doses that the government has purchased from the company is 5.5 million. The remaining doses will be sold at a price of ₹295 plus government taxes.
“The evaluation of COVAXIN™ has resulted in several unique product characteristics including long term persistence of immune responses to multiple viral proteins, as opposed to only the spike protein, and has demonstrated broad spectrum neutralizing capability with heterologous SARS-CoV-2 strains, thus potentially reducing or eliminating escape mutants,” the company statement read.
“This vaccine has also shown to generate memory T cell responses, for its multiple epitopes, indicating longevity and a rapid antibody response to future infections. Its most critical characteristic is the demonstrated safety profile, which is significantly lower than several other vaccines with published data…,” it added.
With inputs from states
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