Coronavirus LIVE Updates: 40-50 Million Vaccine Doses Stockpiled, Says Serum Institute CEO, MoS Health Ashwini Choubey Tests Positive

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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, has already stockpiled 40-50 million dosages of the Covid-19 vaccine, the company’s CEO Adar Poonwalla said on Monday, adding that the firm will be able to produce around 300 million doses by July 2021.

“Once we get regulatory approvals in a few days, it'll be down to the government to decide how much they can take and how fast,” he said. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is likely to get regulatory approval for emergency use this week in India as the updated data submitted by Serum Institute of India (SII) appears “satisfactory”, top government sources have said.

The Krishna district administration on Monday successfully conducted a dry run of the Covid-19 vaccination programme by carrying out various exercises that go into the actual event whenever it begins. Krishna district Collector A Md Imtiyaz, who inaugurated the dry run at the urban primary health centre at Prakash Nagar in Vijayawada, said the (dummy) vaccine was transported from the central storage facility to cold chain points at various places.

The dry run was carried out in five locations with 25 test beneficiaries (healthcare workers) for each session. "We have recorded this in the Co-WIN App and sent SMSes to the chosen patients. We have monitored the time taken for different processes and the logistics involved. This will be used in real-time simulation," the Collector told reporters.

India is holding a two-day dry run for the largest and most ambitious mass immunisation programme in its history. The dummy vaccination exercise for Covid-19 will be carried out today and tomorrow in two districts of four corners of the country —Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Assam.

With preparations underway for a possible vaccine-rollout by January, the Indian drug regulator may give emergency use authorisation to the Serum Institute that is manufacturing the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine here. The process of granting emergency use approval for Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine 'Covaxin' may take time as its phase 3 trials are still underway, while Pfizer is yet to make a presentation. "Going by this, Oxford vaccine 'Covishield' is likely to be the first to be rolled out in India," a source said.

With over 10 million total infections, India is the world’s second worst affected country, even though daily case numbers have been falling consistently over the past three months. The dry run will proceed through four key steps, which will be monitored closely by the central government:

1. Each district will receive the dummy vaccine for 100 beneficiaries from the nearest depot. 2. Temperature will be tracked through the vaccine’s journey from the depot to the vaccination site. 3. An SMS will be sent in advance to the beneficiaries with the name of the vaccinator, and the time of the vaccination. 4. Each beneficiary will be made to sit for 30 minutes after being administered the shot; if an adverse event occurs, its management will be tracked through the central server.

The dry run is intended to test the country's flagship vaccine delivery IT platform, Co-Win, at every stage, Indian Express quoted its sources.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has finally signed a massive $900 billion stimulus bill, in a long-sought boost for millions of Americans and businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The package "providing coronavirus emergency response and relief" is part of a larger spending bill that, with Trump's signature, will avoid a government shutdown on Tuesday.

For days, Trump refused to put his signature on the relief package approved overwhelmingly by Congress following months of negotiation, calling it a "disgrace."

But in his statement, Trump continued to push for the $600 direct payments to US taxpayers spelled out in the bill to be more than tripled, and argued the legislation included too much excess spending on unrelated programs. He has not said why he waited until the bill was already approved to make his views known. President-elect Joe Biden, due to be sworn in January 20 after beating Trump in November's election, had warned of "devastating consequences" on Saturday if the president continued his refusal.