A ground staff walks past a container kept at the Cargo Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which according to the officials will be used as a Covid-19 vaccine handling and distribution center, during the media preview in New Delhi.(REUTERS)
A ground staff walks past a container kept at the Cargo Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which according to the officials will be used as a Covid-19 vaccine handling and distribution center, during the media preview in New Delhi.(REUTERS)

Covid-19: Vaccine may be available at pharmacies

The prices may be subsidised in private markets, said an expert from the team, requesting anonymity. However, the move will be subject to grant of regulatory approvals to the Covid-19 vaccine candidates.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Rhythma Kaul
UPDATED ON DEC 25, 2020 02:04 AM IST

Depending on the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines available by the second quarter of 2021, experts making vaccine-related decisions are considering making shots available for private use for those who can afford to pay even as inoculation of the vulnerable population is expected to begin early next year once a candidate is finalised.

The prices may be subsidised in private markets, said an expert from the team, requesting anonymity. However, the move will be subject to grant of regulatory approvals to the Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

“This is something that was also done for the influenza vaccine; those who can pay are allowed to access the vaccine in private (market) with certain riders,” another senior official in the government, who too spoke condition of anonymity, said. He is also a part of the vaccine delivery process.

The government had earlier announced that India targets to vaccinate at least 300 million high-risk people by July next year. It is currently drafting a list of beneficiaries that includes about 30 million health care and frontline workers for the first phase.

Currently, clinical trials data of two vaccine candidates — Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca being manufactured in India by Serum Institute of India— are being examined by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

The three vaccine candidates whose emergency use authorisation (EUA) applications are before the national drugs regulator are: Pfizer-BioNTech, Serum Institute of India’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech-Indian Council of Medical Research.

Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS),Delhi, said that EUA is likely to be granted by the end of this year or early next year.

“The way things appear right now, necessary regulatory approvals are likely to come either at the end of this year or by early next year,” said Dr Guleria in an interview to a television channel on Thursday.

“For Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate, there is not just Serum’s trial data from India, but also AstraZeneca’s UK trials data to go by,” he added.

While Pfizer had not showed up to present its case in the last meeting of the subject expert committee (SEC) on December 9, experts had sought additional data from the other two companies that had applied for EUA- Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.

Serum submitted the data on Monday, and Pfizer is also ready to present its case and has sought a fresh date from the drugs regulator. The regulator is examining the data before it allocates a date for an SEC to convene.

Bharat Biotech, however, is yet to come back to CDSCO with fresh data.

Several Covid-19 vaccine candidates around the world are currently undergoing advanced phase 3 clinical trials to establish efficacy of the vaccine candidate. The emergency use authorisation is usually based on preliminary phase 3 data. For market use authorisation, regulators seek full trial data.

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