Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held a meeting to review India's vaccination strategy in which issues like prioritisation of population groups and tech platform for rolling out vaccine for the coronavirus were discussed.
Modi tweeted that the meeting discussed important issues related to the progress of vaccine development, regulatory approvals and procurement.
"Reviewed various issues like prioritisation of population groups, reaching out to HCWs (health care workers), cold-chain Infrastructure augmentation, adding vaccinators and tech platform for vaccine roll-out," he said. A number of COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in advanced phases of trial.
The key meeting comes on a day when the head of the Indian company contracted to make AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine said it could deliver it to health care workers and elderly Indians by January as the country's caseload of infections crossed nine million on Friday.
The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has already manufactured millions of doses of the vaccine that is being developed in collaboration with Oxford University while results from late-stage trials are awaited.
Britain-based AstraZeneca has signed several supply and manufacturing deals with companies and governments around the world.
On Thursday, data published in the medical journal The Lancet showed that AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced a strong immune response in older adults, with researchers expecting to release late-stage trial results by Christmas.
Drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have also released data from late-stage trials that shows more than 90% efficacy in their vaccine candidates.
India is watching the progress of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but availability and supply could be an issue with a population as large as India’s, the head of a committee advising the prime minister said this week.
Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the SII, said that his company would seek emergency use authorisation for the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as authorities in the United Kingdom approved it and made it available for the general public.
“It’s been a Herculean task and we are very happy now that we are almost now on autopilot waiting just for the vaccine results to come,” Poonawalla told a conference on Thursday. “Then we can churn out hundreds of millions more of the vaccine.”
The vaccine would be priced between Rs 500-600 in the retail market, but the Indian government would get it for much less, because they would buy it bulk, Poonawalla said.
(With inputs from PTI)