Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said that the emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccination is being considered particularly for senior citizens & people working in high-risk settings.
“This shall be done after a consensus has been reached”, he said, according to an official statement.
While addressing his social media followers on the ‘Sunday Samvad’ platform, the minister said that even if no date has been fixed for the vaccine launch, it may be ready by the first quarter of 2021.
He said that NITI Aayog is drawing up a detailed strategy on how to immunize the majority of the population.
“Issues like vaccine security, cost, equity, cold-chain requirements, production timelines etc., are also been discussed intensely”, he said.
He assured the vaccine will be first made available to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity.
To allay fears regarding the safety aspect of the vaccines, he said he will be happy to take the first dosage of vaccine if some people have a trust deficit.
Elaborating on the vaccine candidates and their development in India, he said that Department of Bio-Technology (DBT), as well as Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), have been pro-active in responding to the emerging situation to support the advancement of vaccine candidates.
India is actively partnering with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and trials at different phases are ongoing with respect to several vaccines in Indian laboratories (private or public) and hospitals, the minister said.
He also noted that a safe and effective vaccine will help in establishing immunity to COVID-19 at a much faster pace as compared to the natural infection.
“It is hoped that a consensus will emerge in next few months over the desired level of protective herd immunity in any community,” he said.
India’s COVID-19 case tally on Monday crossed 48 lakh mark with a spike of 92,071 new cases and 1,136 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.