Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday that the COVID-19 vaccine will be made available in India by the beginning of 2021.
His remarks come at a time when India is reporting over 50 lakh cases and people are expecting a viable vaccine with bated breath.
Addressing the Rajya Sabha over the coronavirus situation in the country, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that India is also making efforts like other nations, adding that "three vaccine candidates are in different phases" of clinical trials.
He further stated that "under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's guidance, an expert group is looking at it and there is advanced planning in place".
Dr. Harsh Vardhan also expressed hope that the coronavirus vaccine will be available in the country "by the start of next year".
Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that PM Modi, the ministers, and state health ministers have been addressing the situation since January 8 fighting "this battle" together.
He said that detailed advisories had been circulated even before the first COVID-19 case was detected in India on January 30. The Union Minister further noted that "extensive contact-tracing was undertaken" with 162 contacts being traced to the first case.
The three vaccine candidates in different stages of clinical trials in the country are being developed by Zydus Cadila, Bharat Biotech, and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
While the ones being undertaken by Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed phase 1 of human tests, SII has resumed its trials after getting clearance from the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI).
The Serum Institute is the manufacturing partner of the vaccine candidate being developed jointly by UK-based pharma giant AstraZeneca and University of Oxford's Jenner Institute.
The Pune-based company is looking after the human tests being conducted at 17 trial sites across the country.