Amid arrival of Sputnik V, expert panel asks states not to procure COVID-19 vaccine separately
The message from the panel comes as some states have shown enthusiasm, said sources, in tying up with Russia which on Tuesday registered the world's first vaccine against the infectious disease
NEW DELHI: An expert group on COVID-19 vaccine administration, which formally met for the first time on Wednesday, has asked states not to separately procure vaccines, clarifying that all such procurement will only be done centrally.
The message from the panel comes as some states have shown enthusiasm, said sources, in tying up with Russia which on Tuesday registered the world's first vaccine against the infectious disease, even as there is scanty data on its quality, safety and efficacy.
The Centre has formed the vaccine committee under Dr V K Paul, member (health) Niti Aayog and Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
A senior member of the committee, who did not wish to be named, told The New Indian Express that there was no question of procuring Sputnik V for India as it has not even completed phase 3 clinical trials and has not released full details of its early human trials.
The official also said that there must be some amount of "realism" while addressing the issue of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Even the WHO points out that the earliest time horizon we’re looking at is January next year for any vaccine to pass our safety and efficacy parameters,” he said.
The expert group, meanwhile, deliberated on conceptualization and implementation mechanisms for creation of a digital infrastructure for inventory management and delivery mechanism of the vaccine including tracking of vaccination process with particular focus on last mile delivery.
The panel also discussed the broad parameters guiding the selection of COVID-19 vaccine candidates for the country and sought inputs from the standing technical sub-committee of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization.
The issues related to procurement mechanisms for the vaccine, including both indigenous and international manufacturing along with guiding principles for prioritization of population groups for vaccination, were also discussed in the meeting.
“The expert group discussed the financial resources required for procurement of a COVID-19 vaccine and various options of financing the same,” said the government in a statement.
“Available options in terms of delivery platforms, cold chain and associated infrastructure for rollout of COVID-19 vaccination were also taken up.”
Further, strategy and follow-up action on all possible scenarios to ensure equitable and transparent delivery of vaccine was deliberated upon, Issues related to vaccine safety and surveillance were taken up and strategies for community involvement through transparent information and awareness creation were discussed.
India is also looking to support its key neighbours and development partner countries for COVID-19 vaccines and has made it clear that it will leverage domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity and will also engage with all international players for early delivery of vaccines also in other low- and middle-income countries.
As of now there are three vaccines—two of them homegrown—in different stages of human trials in the country.