India has sufficient stockpile of COVID 19 vaccines to inoculate priority groups, namely healthcare workers and frontline workers in the first phase, NITI Aayog member V.K. Paul had stated in January. Paul, who is also the chairman of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) had then stated that the government shall soon announce its plans to purchase and distribute the vaccines.
India's drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier approved the Oxford derived COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for 'restricted' emergency use in the country. "Our first phase of vaccination would cover priority groups with high risk of mortality and our healthcare and frontline workers. We have enough COVID 19 vaccines stockpile," Paul had assured.
This had indicated India has at least three crore vaccines stocked up as Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said during first phase of rollout recently that the vaccine would be administered free of cost to one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers. The Centre has also identified 27 crore "priority beneficiaries" essentially those aged 50 or more and those with co morbidities who would be vaccinated by July 2021.
It is worth mentioning here that four leading international health and humanitarian organisations - World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on January had announced the establishment of a global Ebola vaccine stockpile to ensure outbreak response.
The stockpile, led by International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, shall allow countries with the support of humanitarian organisations, to contain future Ebola epidemics by ensuring timely access to vaccines for populations at risk during outbreaks. The injectable single-dose Ebola vaccine is manufactured by Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Corp and developed with financial support from the US government. The European Medicines Agency licensed the Ebola vaccine in November 2019, and the vaccine is now prequalified by WHO and licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration in eight African countries.
Invention of a vaccine takes years, but scientists of the Indian Council of Medical Research along with private company Bharat Biotech has invented Covaxin within a few monthsThe prevailing COVID 19 pandemic reminds the incredible power of vaccines to save lives from deadly viruses," said WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "Ebola vaccines have made one of the most feared diseases on earth preventable. This new stockpile is an excellent example of solidarity, science and cooperation between international organisations and the private sector to save lives."
UNICEF manages the stockpile on behalf of ICG which, as with stockpiles of cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines, will be the decision making body for its allocation and release. With calibrated measures and a focused strategy of the Centre along with the states and UTs, India has gained a global position of recording one of the lowest COVID 19 cases as well as deaths per million population as per Union Health Ministry data.
With 1.3 billion people who live with large families, especially in dense slums without physical distancing provisions coupled with a sheer lack of access to basic sanitation facilities this has been quite a feat.
Invention of a vaccine takes years, but scientists of Indian Council of Medical Research along with private company Bharat Biotech had invented Covaxin within few months.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on January 16 launched the vaccination drive (the largest in the world) and well over 20 lakh healthcare workers across India were vaccinated until January end
The plan is to inoculate over 30 crore high-risk groups, including healthcare and frontline workers, the elderly and those with co morbidities by July 2021. Hai na hamara Bharat mahan?