India Deployment of Covid-19 vaccine after approval for emergency use is one of the world’s most ambitious vaccination programs

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#Both vaccines will be given in two doses and stored at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees #Celsius (36 to 46 degrees #Fahrenheit).

The approval is a crucial step in #India’s efforts to contain its coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 10 million people, behind the #United #States in the total number of cases.

The #Serum #Institute of #India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, produces #AstraZeneca and #Oxford vaccines locally, having taken a huge risk of making the vaccine months before regulatory approval.
“#This is a great day for #India and the world because it will be the most affordable vaccine, which will be fairly distributed as much as possible around the world,” #Institute CEO #Adar #Poonawalla told CNN on #Sunday. .

#But the vaccines, locally branded #Covishield, will not be available in other countries until #March or #April, as the #Indian government has restricted them for export, according to #Poonawalla.

“It’s not going to go to the private market, private hospitals and other places right now. #We are given a restricted license just to give it and provide it to the #Indian government because they want to prioritize the most vulnerable and the needy segments first, ”he said.

#Indian coronavirus vaccines are an important alternative for developing countries, which may not be able to afford the more expensive vaccines made in the #West, or have the cold storage capacity to transport vaccines requiring ultra-cold temperatures , like those developed by #Pfizer and #Moderna.

#In #September, the #Serum #Institute of #India pledged to manufacture and deliver 200 million doses of COVAX – a #World #Health #Organization vaccine alliance created to ensure equitable access to #Covid-19 vaccines. #But the export of vaccines to “low- and middle-income countries” cannot begin until restrictions are relaxed.

#Poonawalla said #Covishield would initially be sold to the #Indian government for $ 2.74 per dose – roughly its cost of production. #It will cost between $ 3 and $ 5 a dose for export and $ 13.70 for the private market, he added.

#Mass vaccination campaign

The #Serum #Institute of #India expects to sign a formal agreement with the #Indian government “shortly”, and people will start getting vaccinated within “the next seven to ten days,” #Poonawalla said.

The institute has already stored 50 million doses of the vaccine ready for distribution this month and is ready to ship them to 30 to 40 government sites across the country. #From there, they will be distributed to the small centers and clinics that have been set up, he said.

#India already has a large and well-established network under its #Universal #Immunization #Program, which inoculates approximately 55 million people per year. #Analysts said this means the country’s health system is relatively well prepared for #Covid-19 vaccinations.

#Prior to the mass vaccination campaign, the #Indian government also recruited and trained additional vaccinators and increased its stockpiles of cold chain storage equipment such as refrigerators and freezers, freezers and ice-filled refrigerators. in recent months. .

An Indian health official takes part in a dry run for Covid-19 vaccinations at an urban community health center in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India on January 2.
#On #Saturday, he conducted a nationwide #Covid-19 vaccination exercise at 286 sites across #India to familiarize officers at all levels with operational guidelines, according to the #Ministry of #Health.
#Some 114,100 workers were trained in tasks such as verifying personal data, managing the cold chain and logistics, and downloading information using government software, the ministry said in a statement.

#Lack of data

#India’s drug regulator has also approved #Covaxin, the first local coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by #Bharat #Biotech and the government-run #Indian #Medical #Research #Council.

#But the government has been heavily criticized by experts and opposition leaders for failing to disclose the vaccine’s efficacy results or any other data from its clinical trials.

#Following #Sunday’s announcement, #Congress leader #Shashi #Tharoor said on #Twitter that the approval of #Covaxin was “premature and could be dangerous” because it did not complete #Phase 3 trials.

“Its use should be avoided until the end of full testing. #India can in the meantime start with the #AstraZeneca vaccine, ”he tweeted.

#Dr #Randeep #Guleria, director of the #All #India #Institute of #Medical #Sciences, agrees.

“I would say that in the first phase we should focus mainly on the #Serum #Institute of #India – the #Astra #Zeneca vaccine, and the #Bharat #Biotech is just a reserve or a backup if the number of cases increases, #Said #Guleria, member of the national task force on the management of #Covid-19.

Governor of the Indian state of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (center) at the launch of the third phase of the regulatory trial of COVAXIN in December 2020.
#Following criticism, #Indian #Minister of #Health #Dr #Harsh #Vardha tweeted #Sunday evening, the authorization for emergency use (EUA) of #Covaxin is “differently conditional – in clinical trial mode”.

“EUA for COVAXIN is different from COVISHIELD because its use will be in clinical trial mode. #All recipients of COVAXIN must be followed, monitored as if they were on trial, ”he wrote.

#In a press release on #Sunday, #Bharat #Biotech said its #Phase 3 clinical trial for #Covaxin began in mid-November, with a goal of including 26,000 volunteers.

“COVAXIN ™ has been evaluated in approximately 1000 subjects in phase I and phase II clinical trials, with promising results in terms of safety and immunogenicity, with acceptance in international peer-reviewed scientific journals”, states the communicated.

#Deployment of vaccines in #Asia

#Across #Asia, a growing number of countries have started getting vaccinated against #Covid-19.

#In #China, regulators last week approved the country’s first coronavirus vaccine, developed by state-owned pharmaceutical giant #Sinopharm.
China approves Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, promises free vaccines to all citizens

The #Chinese government aims to vaccinate 50 million people against #Covid-19 before the #Lunar #New #Year celebrations in #February. The country has already administered 4.5 million doses of #Chinese experimental vaccines since #June as part of its emergency use program, which included frontline workers such as health workers and customs officials.

The next step is to vaccinate vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with underlying diseases, before vaccinating the general population, officials said last week.

#In #Beijing, the municipal government began immunizing target groups of the population, including frontline workers, students and employees who must travel abroad, on #January 1. #It set up 220 vaccination sites across the city and vaccinated 73,500 people on #Saturday.

#Compared to rapid deployments in #India and #China, the #Japanese government has been criticized for being slow to deploy vaccines.

#Japanese #Prime #Minister #Yoshihide #Suga told a press conference on #Monday that vaccinations against #Covid-19 would begin at the end of #February. #He said frontline medical workers and the elderly would be the first groups to receive the vaccinations, adding that the government had moved the schedule forward amid a surge in coronavirus cases.



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