The first stage of the rollout of the vaccines against the coronavirus began with Serum Institute of India – the manufacturer of Oxford University’s Covishield – shipping out its first lot of vials. The Union Health Ministry said the inoculation programme, billed as the world’s largest, is on track.
Four more COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and their manufacturers may approach the drug controller for emergency use authorisation, the Health Ministry. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Zydus Cadila, Sputnik V, Biological E and Gennova are other vaccines that are currently in an advanced clinical trials stage in India. “In the coming days you may see some of these vaccines too approaching the drug controller for emergency use authorisation,” Mr Bhushan said.
There will be a gap of 28 days between two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and its effectiveness will begin 14 days after the second dose, the Health Ministry said. Mr Bhushan said vaccine effectiveness will be seen only after 14 days. “So we urge people to keep following Covid-appropriate behaviour,” he said.
According to the Health Ministry, 110 lakh doses of Covishield are being procured at ₹ 200 per dose (excluding taxes). 55 lakh doses of Covaxin — developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech — are also being procured. Both these vaccines have been approved by the country’s drug regulator for restricted emergency use. Bharat Biotech is charging ₹ 295 per dose for 38.5 lakh doses. The company, which has partnered with the Indian Council of Medical Research for the vaccine, will give 16.5 lakh doses to the centre free of cost.
The centre has received 54,72,000 doses of vaccines against the coronavirus so far, the Health Ministry said.