Expressing confidence that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in the next three-four months, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said the government has drawn up a meticulous priority plan with healthcare workers and those above 65 years on top of the list. Addressing the FICCI FLO's national webinar on 'The Shifting Healthcare Paradigm During and Post-COVID', Vardhan said it is estimated that 400-500 million vaccine doses will be made available for 250-300 million people by July-August.
"I am confident that the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in the next three-four months," he said. "It is natural that the vaccine distribution would have to be prioritised. As you know the healthcare workers who are corona warriors will be prioritised, then people who are above 65 years of age, they have been prioritised and then those from 50-65 years of age have been prioritised. Then those below 50 years who have other diseases," he said.
Vardhan said everything is being decided by experts with a scientific point of view. "We have made a very detailed meticulous plan on this," he said. "What we would have to do in March-April next year, we have started planning for it from now only," Vardhan said.
The minister said, "We have also initiated an integrated response system against COVID-19 and will also host clinical trials for all the major vaccines. About 20 vaccines are in different stages of development."
He said about 90-99 per cent tackling of COVID-19 is only through protecting and motivating others. "You can protect yourself from this deadly virus with small precautions like wearing a good quality mask properly, maintaining social distance and taking care of hand-hygiene," he noted. The phase-3 trial of the Oxford vaccine of the Serum Institute is almost near completion, while the phase-3 clinical trial of the indigenously-developed vaccine candidate of the Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has already started.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories will also soon start the combined phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, in India. Also, the Biological E Limited has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have said their vaccine candidate was found to be more than 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19. Moderna had on Monday said the independent National Institutes of Health-appointed Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) for the Phase 3 study of mRNA-1273, its vaccine candidate against COVID-19, found it to have an efficacy of 94.5 per cent.