COVID Vaccine: Centre sets up panel to discuss logistics, infra and procurement

As Russia launches the first COVID-19 vaccine ‘Sputnik-v’, the day is not far that other countries also come up with their own indigenous vaccines. In light of the same, the Centre has set up an expert committee headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul to consider the Logistics and ethical aspects of procurement and administration of the vaccine.

As per reports, the committee which will meet on Wednesday and engage with all stakeholders including state governments and vaccine manufacturers and its terms of reference include selecting suitable vaccines, their procurement and delivery and prioritising groups to administer them.

Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan via a tweet yesterday informed, “The Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration under the chairmanship of Dr V K Paul, NITI Aayog will meet on 12th August to consider logistics and ethical aspects of procurement & administration of COVID-19 vaccine.”

“It will look into aspects related to logistics like cold chain and inventory, arrangement of resources for procuring the vaccine and issues of equity. This expert group will continue its engagement with all state governments and vaccine manufacturers in India.”

~ Rajesh Bhushan at a press briefing on Tuesday

Furthermore, the Ministry replying to the question ‘if the government was looking at at-risk funding for vaccine manufacturers and has estimated the number of doses required at least in the first six months’, said these issues have been engaging the attention of the Health Ministry for ‘quite some time now’.

He added, “We have consulted a large number of stakeholders and have also made certain projections, but it will be premature to share them with you as of now.”

Giving an update on the testing of vaccine in India Bhushan informed that three vaccine candidates are in different stages of human clinical trials in India.

Two of the vaccines developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership the Indian Council of Medical Research and Zydus Cadila are undergoing phase-1 and 2 human clinical trials, Bhushan said.

The Serum Institute of India has also been granted permission to conduct Phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of the third vaccine candidate developed by the Oxford University. The Pune-based institute has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing it.

The Phase 1 trial of the Oxford vaccine candidate in the UK is complete and Phase 2 trials are going on in the UK and South Africa, while the Phase 3 trial is underway in Brazil.

The Serum Institute has said it has entered into a new partnership with international vaccine alliance Gavi and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of vaccines for India and other low and middle-income countries.

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