NEW DELHI: The Centre is hoping to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses of vaccine against Covid-19 covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July, 2021, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan declared on Sunday.
Interacting with his social media followers through the programme titled Sunday Samvaad, the minister also said that the government is keeping an eye on immunity data with regard to Covid-19 disease while finalizing these plans, as reported by this newspaper earlier.
"There is a high-level expert body going into all aspects of vaccines. Our rough estimate and the target would be to receive and utilise 400 to 500 million doses covering approximately 25 crore people by July 2021," he said.
In response to the question on prioritising the distribution of vaccines, Vardhan said that the Union health ministry is currently preparing a format in which states will submit lists of priority population groups to receive vaccines, especially health workers engaged in the management of Covid-19.
The list of frontline health workers will include both government as well as private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, ASHA workers, surveillance officers and many other occupational categories who are involved in tracing, testing and treatment of patients.
This exercise is targeted to be completed by the end of this October and the states are being closely guided to also submit details about cold chain facilities and other related infrastructure which will be required down to the block level.
The minister also underlined that vaccine procurement is being done centrally and each consignment will be tracked real time until delivery to ensure it reaches those who need it most.
He added that the expert group on vaccine administration is working on understanding the timelines of availability of various vaccines in the country, obtaining commitments from vaccine manufacturers to make available maximum number of doses for India inventory and supply chain management and also on prioritisation of high-risk groups.
This is work in progress which will be completed by the time the vaccines are ready to ensure the swift roll-out of the immunisation program, Vardhan added.
While responding to a question on the level playing field for various clinical trials, Vardhan stressed shared that all proposed clinical trials in India are designed using set principles and are stringently reviewed by the subject expert committee set up by the Drug Controller General of India.
Recently, the drug regulator had also formulated draft guidelines on regulatory requirements for licensure of Covid-19 vaccines in India.
On being asked whether Phase 3 Clinical Trial of Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine will be carried out in India, the minister clarified that the matter is still under consideration, and no decision has been taken as yet.
Vardhan meanwhile clarified that there is no plan to carry out human challenge trials for Covid-19 vaccines in the country-a trial method in which volunteers are first vaccinated and then deliberately exposed to the virus to assess whether the vaccine is effective.