The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday said that it would be ready to roll out coronavirus vaccines within 10 days from the date of emergency-use authorisation, based on feedback from the dry run.
The announcement was made by Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press briefing. On January 3, the Drugs Controller General of India gave emergency approval to the coronavirus vaccines developed by the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.
Bhushan expressed hope that by July, India would have enough coronavirus vaccine doses to cover 30 crore people in priority groups. He also provided details of the government’s transportation plan for the vaccine.
The secretary said that the vaccines would be transported under refrigerated conditions, PTI reported. He added that they would be digitally monitored in transit.
Bhushan added that manufacturers will transport the vaccines to four Government Medical Stores Depots situated in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Karnal. From there, the vaccines would be transported in bulk to 37 stores situated across various states for distribution.
“From there on, it is the responsibility either of the state governments or Union Territory administration to deploy the stock further as per their requirement,” Bhushan was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times. “From the state stores, the supplies will be sent to the district vaccine stores, which is also a temperature-controlled facility.”
The official said that the second part of India’s massive vaccination drive would involve the identification and registration of the beneficiaries. Health workers will not need to register for vaccination. “Their information will be taken from a bulk database that has been populated onto the CO-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System,” Bhushan said, according to PTI.
He also outlined the process for other people. “Co-WIN will also give permission to create a Unique Health ID,” he said. “After administration of both doses, a QR code certificate will also be generated, which can be stored on government’s DigiLocker app.” People above the age of 50 will be identified with the help of electoral records.
Bhushan said that in the final step, the officials will follow up with the beneficiaries. There is also a provision of reporting adverse effects in real-time through the Co-WIN app.
Earlier on Tuesday, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute promised a smooth rollout the vaccines in India. This came a day after Serum Institute’s chief Adar Poonawalla, without naming Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin shot, said that all vaccines apart from those of Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca were “just like water”.
The Serum Institute is the local maker of Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca. Bharat Biotech has manufactured India’s first indigenous vaccine candidate Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.
Opposition parties and experts have questioned the government’s decision to clear Covaxin, India’s first indigenous vaccine, without the publication of data from its phase-3 human trials.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria had also said on Sunday that Serum’s Covishield will be used in the initial phase of the vaccination drive, and Covaxin will be used in emergency situation or as a backup.
Despite receiving approvals, the two companies are yet to sign a formal deal with the government.