The central government is actively deliberating on who will be the recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine first. Discussions have centered around various stakeholders for it. However, no date for vaccine availability has been announced yet.
The human clinical trial of India’s first possible COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin has been started. As the COVID-19 figure has touched more than a million mark in India, everyone has set their eyes on the trial.
But what concerns the government right now is to identify the groups who would receive the vaccine first.
Rajesh Bhushan, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said, ” …there has been a discussion on prioritizing how a vaccine would be distributed and administer, if and when it is available —the answer is, yes; there are multiple stakeholders within government and Ministry of Health has started actively engaging with such stakeholders.”
Rajesh Bhushan thinks that it is essential to think about the logistics and how it will be procured and made available to ordinary people. But more necessary is to ponder upon the question of “Who will get the vaccine first?”
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The questions “Will the human trial be successful?” and “When will it be available in the market?” are also followed by “Who will get the vaccine first?”
The Indian policymakers are continually discussing who should get the vaccine first. And various groups have been identified in the priority list.
It is being discussed that the frontline workers should get it first. Another growing consensus is for the elderly population or those with co-morbidities.
Another poll is for socio-economically disadvantaged groups. The reason stated is that they have low immunity because of a lack of resources, causing malnutrition.
VK Paul, NITI Aayog member and also a part of the COVID-19 national taskforce, spoke on the matter. He said, “ We cannot accept a situation where the rich have the vaccine and not the poor. This is simply unacceptable… We are also working actively to prioritize the groups that should receive the vaccine before the other group, and those decisions are in the active stage of being deliberated upon.”
VK Paul further added that India envisages the use of the COVID-19 vaccine not only for its citizens but also for the world and humanity.
Covaxin: India’s first possible vaccine against COVID-19
Bharat Biotech International Limited, along with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, has developed Covaxin. It is an indigenously created possible vaccine against the coronavirus.
The human clinical trial has begun in 12 institutes, and at least 375 people will volunteer for the initial rounds of the vaccine.
The government asked people between 18 and 55 years of age to participate in the trial voluntarily. Reportedly more than 3,000 people have enrolled for it.
VK Paul asserted, “ India’s journey for a safe, effective, and affordable COVID-19 vaccine shall be driven by the best scientific and ethical principles and for that our regulatory and scientific mechanisms are already in place.”
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However, there are significant challenges listed out by Balram Bhargava, Indian Medical Research Institute (ICMR) Director-General. According to him, special care has to be taken on recognizing vulnerable groups, logistics, storage, fair distribution, and training people.