Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a review meeting to assess the progress in vaccine development against the coronavirus, the Hindustan Times reported. The prime minister said that the vaccine has to be cost-effective, easily available and scalable.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan, a NITI Aayog member, Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan, senior scientists and some government officials.
The prime minister lauded the efforts of Indian vaccine manufacturers in trying to produce a vaccine for Covid-19. However, he said India has to cater to the needs of the world as well. Modi took stock of the health ministry’s distribution and delivery mechanism for vaccines. Three vaccines are currently under trial in India.
At the meeting, Modi also asked the officials to increase testing and conduct more sero-surveys, Times Now reported. “The prime minister directed that both sero surveys and testing must be scaled up and he said that the facility to get tested regularly, speedily and inexpensively must be available to all at the earliest,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said, according to the news network.
The health ministry has started looking into matters such as vaccine storage, distribution, and prioritisation of inoculation, the Hindustan Times reported. Under the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul, there are subgroups looking into various aspects of vaccine development, procurement and distribution.
The government has been identifying both public and private facilities for storing vaccines. There is focus on finding cold-storage facilities, as vaccines become ineffective at certain warmer temperatures. India has about 27,000 vaccine storage centres across all its districts, storing all kinds of vaccines at present.
On October 4, Harsh Vardhan had said that the government’s target was to receive and utilise 40 to 50 crore coronavirus vaccines, covering approximately 20 to 25 crore of the country’s population, by July 2021. Vardhan said that frontline workers will be given priority during vaccinations. The Indian government believes a vaccine will be ready by early 2021.
The list of frontline health workers includes doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, surveillance officers and many other occupational categories who are involved in tracing, testing and treatment of patients.
India coronavirus tally rose to 73,07,097 on Thursday as it reported 67,708 new cases in the last 24 hours. The country’s toll rose by 680 to 1,11,266. India’s active cases stood at 8,12,390, a decline from Wednesday, while the recoveries reached 63,83,441.