New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) The Centre said that 54.72 lakh of the entire stock of COVID-19 vaccine doses ordered so far have been received at designated national and state-level vaccine stores in states and Union Territories till Tuesday afternoon with the coronavirus inoculation drive set to begin from January 16.
Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said all the shots, consisting of 1.1 crore doses from Serum Institute of India (SII) and 55 lakh doses from Bharat Biotech India Limited, will be received in all states and UTs by Thursday.
A massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 was set in process with Covishield vaccine leaving Pune for 13 cities across India early in the morning, four days before vaccination is scheduled to begin on January 16.
Bhushan informed that the Central government is procuring 1.1 crore doses of Covishield vaccine from SII at the cost of Rs 200 per dose, excluding taxes, while 55 lakh doses of Covaxin are being procured from Bharat Biotech India Limited.
'Fifty-five lakh doses of Covaxin are being procured from Bharat Biotech. For 38.5 lakh doses the price is Rs 295 each, excluding taxes. Bharat Biotech is providing 16.5 lakh doses for free which ultimately brings the cost of each dose of Covaxin down to Rs 206,' he said.
Bhushan said there are four Central Government Medical Stores Depots at Chennai, Karnal, Kolkata and Mumbai where the vaccines are being received.
Besides this, all states have at least one regional vaccine store which are temperature controlled, while some of the bigger states have more than one such facility.
Uttar Pradesh has nine such stores, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat four each, Kerala has three such facilities, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Rajasthan two each, he said.
'As we speak, 54,72,000 doses have already been received till 4 pm at these vaccine stores, while 100 per cent doses, 1.1 crore from Serum Institute and 55 lakh from Bharat Biotech, will be received by January 14 in all states and Union Territories,' the health secretary said.
Dr V K Paul member, NITI Aayog member (Health), said these two vaccines have been tested in thousands of people, they are the safest and there is no risk of any significance.
Bhushan said there will be a sequential roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination. Healthcare workers will be on the top priority, followed by frontline workers and prioritized age groups.
'Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government,' Bhushan said. About the effectiveness of the vaccines, Bhushan said there will be a gap of 28 days between two doses and its effectiveness can be seen only after 14 days.
'So we urge people to keep following COVID appropriate behaviour,' he said.
Listing the expectations from state and UT governments, Bhushan said all logistics should be ready for vaccination roll-out from January 16.
States will exercise continuous oversight and personal involvement on the entire process and there should be a special focus on communication activities and utilisation of all types of channels to create an encouraging environment, that vaccines are safe and immunogenic, he said.
'It is important because we need to ensure that as we proceed, this is monitored at every level in state as well as UTs. This will ensure all target populations get the vaccine and there is no wastage because we have started getting news of wastage happening in western countries. 'This will also ensure everyone knows what they are supposed to do. There are roughly over 50 countries in the world where vaccination has started but all of them have populations less than ours. So our challenge is much greater and therefore we need to be more prepared,' Bhushan said. Bhushan said four more COVID-19 vaccines, one by Zydus Cadila, Russian vaccine Sputnik V, Biological E, and Gennova, are in advanced clinical trials in India.
'In the coming days you may see some of these vaccine manufacturers too approaching the drug controller for emergency use authorisation,' Bhushan said. Giving a scenario of the price of vaccines available round the world, he said the one by Pfizer-BioNTech is available at Rs 1,431 per dose, Moderna at Rs 2,348 to Rs 2,715, Sinopharm less than Rs 5,650 per dose, Sinovac Biotech at Rs 1,027, Novavax at Rs 1,114, Gamaleya Centre's at less than Rs 734 per dose, and Johnson and Johnson at Rs 734 per dose.
All these vaccines, except the one by Pfizer, can be stored between 2-8 degrees Cenlsius. The one developed by Pfizer needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, the health secretary added.
He said the five key principles for anti-coronavirus vaccination are to ensure people's participation, utilise the experience of elections and universal immunisation programme, making no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms and neither on existing healthcare services.
Noting that the COVID-19 situation is worrisome around the world with the graph of active cases climbing in the US, the UK, Brazil, Russia and South Africa which have a population which is much lesser than India, he said even though daily new cases are declining in India, there should not be any laxity in following COVID-appropriate behaviour.
India's overall COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 5.7 per cent while positivity rate in the last one week was recorded at 2 per cent, Bhushan said, adding that about 43.96 per cent of the total COVID-19 patients are in healthcare facilities while 56.04 per cent are in home isolation. PTI PLB/UZM NSD NSD