NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday announced that the government is prepared to roll out Covid vaccines within 10 days of granting emergency use authorisation.
“Based on the feedback of dry-run, the government is ready to introduce Covid-19 vaccine within 10 days from date of emergency use authorization,” said Rajesh Bhushan, health secretary in the weekly press briefing on coronavirus response.
Considering that Covishield by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech had received formal accelerated approvals by the drug controller general in India on January 3, this means that the first vaccine shots could be given around January 13.
In the first phase, the government is planning to inoculate 1 crore healthcare workers, 2 crore frontline workers in various essential services followed by about 27 crore people who are above 50 or have serious comorbidities.
In the briefing, Bhushan also spelt out the vaccine delivery management plan using CoWin platform, specially designed for the purpose.
"There are 4 primary vaccine stores called GMSD located in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata and there are 37 vaccine stores in the country. They store vaccines in bulk and distribute further," he said. informed Bhushan in a press briefing on Tuesday.
The facility including the storage of the vaccine with digital temperature trackers has been in use in India for over a decade, he said.
Automated session allocation, SMS to be sent in 12 languages, 24x7 helpline, chatbox with pattern recognition to help navigate the portal, digital locker for integrated data retrieval and storing of the vaccines, QR code certificate are some of the salient features of the CoWIN system, as per the details shared.
The official also clarified that healthcare and frontline workers will not need to register themselves as beneficiaries as their data has been pre-populated on the CoWIN platform in a bulk manner.
Meanwhile justifying the accelerated approvals granted to the two vaccines in India, both ICMR director General Balram Bhargava and Niti Aayog member (health) V K Paul said that they should be seen in the context in which the permission has been issued.
“The safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy data are required for approval of any vaccine - in a non-emergency situation. In the existing pandemic situation, due to high mortality and lack of known treatments is considered by the subject expert committee for accelerated approval,” said Bhargava.
Restricted usage is considered based on safety and immunogenicity while phase-3 is still ongoing in a pandemic situation, he added, the immunogenicity of phase-2 acts as a guide to efficacy when phase-3 is ongoing as per 2019 clinical trial rules.