The Centre on Tuesday said it had placed new orders to procure 25 crore doses of the Covishield vaccine and 19 crore doses of Covaxin.

During a briefing on India’s Covid-19 situation, NITI Aayog (Health) member VK Paul said these 44 crore doses will be available between August and December this year.

“The government has also placed an order to purchase 30 crore doses of Biological E’s vaccine, which will be available by September,” he added, according to ANI. “We should wait for the company [Biological E] to announce the price of their vaccine [Corbevax]. It will depend on our negotiation with the company, under the new policy. The financial aid that has been given will meet part of the price

On June 3, the Centre had announced that it has finalised a deal with Hyderabad-based Biological-E to reserve the coronavirus vaccine doses. The vaccine, which is currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials, is likely to be available in the next few months, the health ministry had said.

The fresh order for vaccines came a day after the Centre took over procurement of jabs for those in the 18-45 age group from the state governments. However, private hospitals will continue to buy 25% of the total vaccine stock.

The new vaccine procurement policy means that while all adults will be eligible for free vaccines bought by the Centre, some beneficiaries will have to pay for their shots if they choose to get inoculated at private medical facilities.

‘No data to suggest children more vulnerable in future waves’

Meanwhile, All India Institute of Medical Sciences chief Randeep Guleria, also present at Tuesday’s briefing, said there was no evidence to suggest that children were at a higher risk of getting infected in subsequent waves of the pandemic. His comment came amid concerns raised from several entities, including state governments, that children might be more vulnerable in case a third wave of the pandemic hits.

“It is a piece of misinformation that subsequent waves of the Covid-19 pandemic are going to cause severe illness in children,” Guleria said at a press briefing of the Union health ministry. “If you look at the data for the second wave [of coronavirus], 60-70% children who were admitted to hospitals had co-morbidities or low immunity.”

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Speaking on the possibility of more waves of the pandemic, Guleria said it was a normal occurrence in case of pandemics caused due to respiratory viruses.

“When a large part of the population acquires immunity against the infection, the virus becomes endemic and infection becomes seasonal – like that of H1N1 [swine flu] that commonly spreads during monsoon or winters,” Guleria said.

The AIIMS chief stressed on the need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour in order to stem waves of the pandemic in the future.

“When enough people are vaccinated or when we acquire natural immunity against the infection, then these waves will stop,” he said. “The only way out is to strictly follow Covid appropriate behaviour”.