With the Indian drug regulatory authority approving emergency-use authorisation of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the nation is preparing for the largest immunisation drive in the world. At this moment, Union Minister for Health Harsh Vardhan told reporters on Saturday that we must be wary of misinformation and rumours spreading about vaccines.
“I want to appeal to people to not believe in any rumours. Our most important consideration in the vaccine trial is safety and efficacy, and nothing will be compromised,” Vardhan told reporters after reviewing the dry run at a government hospital in New Delhi. The Minister reminded that “different kinds of rumours were also spread during polio immunisation, but people took the vaccine and now India is polio-free”.
Meanwhile, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul has said that the Centre will take care of the cost of vaccinating 30 crore people as part of the first phase. He added that it would take about six to eight months to complete the first stage of vaccination. While the Experts Panel has given their nod for Covishield, domestically produced by Serum Institute of India, the Centre is awaiting the final approval from the Drugs Controller General of India. Harsh Vardhan said, “Once the final approval is in, we will contact SII for the vaccine, and will initially acquire vaccines for 2.5 crore people.”
Yesterday, the DCGI’s expert committee has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca developed Covishield vaccine on certain conditions. The committee decided on it during a meeting chaired to consider the applications of Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, and Pfizer for emergency use approval of their Covid-19 vaccine. The committee decided after aggressively analysing the data presented before them.
According to data, the Covishield has shown an average efficacy of 70.4% with no severe diseases or hospitalisation. After the United Kingdom and Argentina approved the vaccine, the Indian drug regulator asked Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) to present the updated data. SII and Oxford-AstraZeneca signed an agreement to produce nearly 1 billion doses of the vaccine for middle and lower-income nations. AstraZeneca has said that authorisation is for two doses administered with an interval between four to 12 weeks.