Virologist Gagandeep Kang on Sunday said that India delayed the process of buying coronavirus vaccines in the bulk and is now left with few options to choose from in the international market, NDTV reported.
“Aren’t we a little late to the table on this one?” Kang told the news channel, when asked if India should buy vaccines aggressively. “The rest of the world has been buying vaccines at risk for a year, so what’s the supply that is available in the market for us to go now and say we want to buy vaccines?”
Kang said that a more viable option for the government would be to approach Indian manufacturers whose coronavirus vaccines are currently under clinical trials. She suggested that the government should do “at risk investments” in these manufacturers.
“If you can go to Zydus Cadila, Biological E...All the companies that are making vaccines which will be ready in the later part of this year,” Kang said. “Tell them [to] ramp up your production, make as much as you can, if your trials are successful, we will take everything that you have got. I think we will get more doses that way.”
The comment came as several states in the country continue to face shortages of coronavirus shots. As recently as on Sunday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Udhhav Thackeray suspended vaccination for the 18-44 age group in the state as the supply of doses was not smooth. Aam Aadmi Party MLA Atishi on Sunday said there were no more doses of Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin left with the Delhi government after Monday’s inoculations.
Meanwhile, commenting on the efficacy shown by vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech, Kang said that the available data showed that the shots “work very well”.
“When [last year] World Health Organisation built a target product profile for a vaccine against coronavirus, we were hoping for a vaccine that shows at least 50% efficacy for at least six months,” Kang said. “...Would we like the efficacy to be 90% instead of 60%? Yes. But 60% isn’t bad at all.”
On Sunday, data from United Kingdom’s government health body Public Health England showed that two doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has shown 60% efficacy against symptomatic infection caused due to the B.1.617.2 variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in India. The Serum Institute of India is the local maker of the coronavirus vaccine – locally called Covishield – developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
Kang also pointed out that the data released on Sunday was for all symptomatic cases, while what was more important was to reduce the severity and curb deaths due to coronavirus. “Previously, we have had data from the UK showing that we get 80% protection from severe illness and death even among the elderly,” she said.