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Covid-19 vaccine tracker, Oct 5: India hopes to vaccinate 20-25 crore people by next July

Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine update, October 5: Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said state governments have been asked to prepare a list of priority groups that would need to be vaccinated first. This list is supposed to be ready by the end of this month.

By: Explained Desk | Pune | October 5, 2020 8:46:23 am
Commuters wearing masks wait at a traffic intersection in Kochi, Kerala (AP)

Coronavirus vaccine tracker: India is working towards vaccinating 20 to 25 crore of its people, about one-sixth of its entire population, against Covid19 disease by July next year, according to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. This, of course, is on the assumption that one or more vaccines becoming available by the expected time frame of early next year. As of now, only one vaccine that India is interested in has been approved, the one developed in Russia. But that too has to undergo testing in India before it can be authorised for use.

Harsh Vardhan said the government was working on a plan to “receive and utilise” 400 to 500 million (40 to 50 crore) doses of a coronavirus vaccine by July next year. This would be sufficient for 20 to 25 crore people, since most of the vaccines under development that are likely to become available early next year, would require at least two doses to be administered. A candidate vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson, is the only one currently in phase-3 trials, that is potentially a single-dose vaccine.

Harsh Vardhan said state governments have been asked to prepare a list of priority groups that would need to be vaccinated first. This list is supposed to be ready by the end of this month. A committee is already in place to organise the supply chain for the vaccines, including their storage, transportation and distribution, the minister said.

Currently, there are two Indian vaccines under development, both of them in phase-2 clinical trials. One of them is being developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, and the other one by Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila. If the trials go well, they might become available by early next year too.

In addition, Indian companies have signed agreements with at least four leading vaccine candidates for their manufacture and distribution in India. Pune’s Serum Institute is supposed to bring two of these vaccines — one being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and the other one by US company Novavax. The Oxford University vaccine is already being tested on Indian population.

The Russian vaccine is supposed to be supplied by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. This vaccine is expected to get into late stage trials in India soon. Then, Hyderabad-based Biological E has entered into an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to bring its vaccine to India.

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 at a government hospital in Unchahar, Raebareli district (AP Photo)

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At least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to be free for Japanese people

Japan has decided to make at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine free for all its citizens, the Kyodo news agency reported. The Japanese government approved a policy in this regard on Friday.

Japan has entered into agreements with AstraZeneca and Pfizer to secure 120 million vaccine doses each, whenever they are ready. It is also negotiating with Moderna for 40 million doses, the news report said. All the three vaccine candidates are in phase-3 clinical trials in the United States and are expected to become available by early next year. Japan is hoping to enough doses to vaccinate its entire population by the first half of next year.

The policy approved on Friday also makes it incumbent on the government, and not on the vaccine companies, to pay damages to Japanese people if the vaccine induces any serious harmful side-effects.

Visitors with protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus take selfies at shopping arcade in Asakusa district in Tokyo (AP Photo)

Several other countries have also decided to make coronavirus vaccines available to their public free of cost. These include Australia and the United States.

Hunt for coronavirus vaccine: The story so far

As on October 4:

  • 193 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical or clinical trials
  • 42 of them in clinical trials
  • Ten in final stages, phase-III of human trials
  • At least eight candidate vaccines being developed in India. Two of these have entered phase -II trials after completing phase-I.

The ones most talked about:

* AstraZeneca/Oxford University
* Moderna
* Pfizer/BioNTech
* Johnson & Johnson
* Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline
* Novavax
* Russian vaccine, developed by Gamaleya Insttiute in Moscow
* Three Chinese vaccines that have been approved for use in China without phase-3 trials being completed. One of them has been given emergency use authorisation in UAE

(Source: WHO Coronavirus vaccine landscape of October 2, 2020)

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