The Prime Minister's Office, parliamentary committee, and officials in the health department have begun the preparation for the biggest adult vaccination programme for COVID-19. The much-anticipated vaccine could be rolled out for the public in a few months.
The parliamentary standing committee on chemicals and fertilisers will discuss the production of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. The panel-led by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) lawmaker Kanimozhi Karunanidhi will hear officials of pharmaceutical departments on the status of the COVID-19 vaccine. Monday's meeting will focus on key issues for vaccine production, according to a report by Mint.
So far, two parliamentary committees -one on health and family welfare, and another on science and technology - have discussed India's preparedness for the pandemic.
The parliamentary panel on health and family welfare became the first to submit its report on the outbreak and management of the coronavirus pandemic to Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday. The parliamentary panel suggested creating an Indian Health Service on the lines of the civil services for streamlining public healthcare and for an increase in health sector budget and investment in health infrastructure.
According to several experts, immunisation against COVID-19 involved several challenges, including logistics and supply chain for distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in India. There is no adult vaccination programme in the country except tetanus for pregnant women.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed India's preparations for vaccinating its vast population.
"Important issues related to the progress of vaccine development, regulatory approvals and procurement were discussed," Modi wrote on Twitter. "Reviewed various issues like prioritisation of population groups, reaching out to healthcare workers, cold-chain infrastructure augmentation, adding vaccinators, and tech platform for vaccine roll-out," the prime minister added.
The prime minister will be holding a similar meeting with states' chief minister and other health officials on Tuesday.
Presently, at least three vaccine candidates are under clinical trials in the country.
The Serum Institute of India has finished its phase-3 trial of the Oxford vaccine, while that of the indigenously developed COVAXIN of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has begun its phase-3 human trials in 26 centres.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories will conduct the phase 2/3 human clinical trials of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, in India.
On the other hand, US companies Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have announced that their vaccine candidate was found to be 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19, and Moderna has claimed that its vaccine candidate was found to have an efficacy of nearly 94.5 per cent.