NEW DELHI: The Centre has set up an expert committee headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul which will meet on Wednesday to consider the logistics and ethical aspects of procuring and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, the Union Health Ministry said.
The committee on vaccine administration will engage with all stakeholders including state governments and vaccine manufacturers and its terms of reference include selecting suitable vaccines, their procurement and delivery and prioritising groups to administer them.
"It will also look into aspects related to logistics like cold chain and inventory, arrangement of resources for procuring the vaccine and issues of equity.
This expert group will continue its engagement with all state governments and vaccine manufacturers in India," said Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press briefing on Tuesday.
He was responding to a question on whether India plans to tie up with Russia for procuring the vaccine which Moscow claims to have developed.
Asked if the government was looking at at-risk funding for vaccine manufacturers and has estimated the number of doses required at least in the first six months, Bhushan said these issues have been engaging the attention of the Health Ministry for "quite some time now".
"We have consulted a large number of stakeholders and have also made certain projections, but it will be premature to share them with you as of now," he added.
"The Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration under the chairmanship of Dr V K Paul, NITI Aayog will meet on 12th August to consider logistics & ethical aspects of procurement & administration of COVID-19 vaccine," the Health Ministry tweeted.
Three vaccine candidates are in different stages of human clinical trials in India.
The phase-1 and 2 human clinical trials of two of them, developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, and Zydus Cadila Ltd, are going on, Bhushan said.
The Serum Institute of India has been permitted for conducting Phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of the third vaccine candidate developed by the Oxford University.
The Pune-based institute has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing it.
The phase 1 trial of the Oxford vaccine candidate in the UK is complete and phase 2 trials are going on in the UK and South Africa, while the phase-3 trial is underway in Brazil.
The Serum Institute has said it has entered into a new partnership with international vaccine alliance Gavi and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of vaccines for India and other low and middle-income countries.