The phase 3 trial of COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila is complete, and the vaccine will be available in the market by September-October, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Mandaviya said Cadila's ZyCoV-D will be the first DNA vaccine of India, and 7 crore doses are expected to be available.
ZyCoV-D is a DNA plasmid vaccine, which uses a portion of the genetic code -- DNA or RNA -- in the virus to stimulate an immune response. The company has already applied for emergency use authorisation (EUA) to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the vaccine for those aged 12 years and above.
In reply to a short duration discussion in the upper house of Parliament, Mandaviya also rejected allegations of undercounting of COVID-19 deaths. He said registration of COVID-19 deaths is done by states, and the Centre never asked any state to record less number of deaths or cases.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge said that the government's COVID-19 death toll figure of 4-5 lakh is "false" and conservative and claimed the average number of deaths cannot be less than 52.4 lakh so far in the country.
On availability of other vaccines, Mandaviya said technology transfer to several companies has started and they will begin production in the coming days to reduce vaccine shortage in the country.
The Health Minister said 11-12 crore doses of Serum Institute of India's COVID-19 vaccine Covishield are being made available every month, while Bharat Biotech will supply 3.5 crore doses of Covaxin in August.
He said states are given vaccine availability projections 15 days in advance and it is their responsibility to plan the inoculation drive accordingly.
Mandaviya also said that it is not appropriate to say that the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic will hit children.
"Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have started trials on children. I expect their trials to be successful. We need to trust our scientists. I trust my scientists and indigenous companies," he said.
He also informed that 316 oxygen plants out of the total 1,573 planned across the country have been commissioned, and the rest will start operations by August-end.
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