AIIMS Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria has stated that India is in talks with Pfizer-BioNTech regarding its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. He further informed that no such communication has been initiated with Moderna for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
"We have two challenges in front of us now. One, to break the transmission chain, two, to make the vaccine available to all,"
Guleria explained while speaking at the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
Answering questions on the recent success of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna towards developing a successful COVID-19 vaccine candidate with high-efficiency rates, he said, "It is a very interesting time. The announcements by the two pharma companies are encouraging. There are many hurdles. The first one is crossed."
Pharmaceutical industry giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech had stated on November 18 that their vaccine candidate was 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections during late-stage trials. A few days ago, Moderna had said that their vaccine candidate was 94.5 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection. Both these COVID-19 candidates are the current front-runners in the race to the discovery of a successful COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Ashish K Jha, the Dean of Brown University's School of Public Health also spoke about the two COVID-19 vaccine candidates at the Summit. He said that he was "thrilled, happy and delighted" by the developments.
Jha added, "I have been very pleasantly surprised with what we are seeing with vaccines. Two or three weeks ago, I would have been happy with vaccines around 60 per cent effective, I dared not hope for 70 per cent and yet we have two vaccines, one from Moderna, one from Pfizer, that have both shown to be 95 per cent effective. That is incredible".
When asked about the availability of the potential COVID-19 vaccine, Guleria said that it will depend on the percentage of the population to get inoculated will depend on the number of COVID-19 vaccines getting approved by regulatory bodies and also on the number of shots that the companies are producing. " I won't hazard a guess. But I would hope 30 to 40 per cent of Indians get vaccinated as soon as possible," he added.
Guleria also said that COVID-19 is something that the world has to be weary of. "It will stay around for some time and we will have to live with it and control it," added Guleria.