NEW DELHI: The government is expecting two vaccines against Covid-19 — Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin — to be available by January and around four vaccines by the end of April, increasing the prospects of adequate supplies to inoculate some 30 crore priority population by July, an official said.
While Covishield, according to a PTI report late on Sunday evening, sought emergency approval, Covaxin is expected to be approved for emergency use by the end of January or early February, if the shots clear scrutiny. The drugs regulator and the government are also examining Pfizer’s application for emergency authorisation and may give the go-ahead but are keen to understand how many shots can be supplied to boost India’s priority vaccination programme.
Apart from these three, Russia’s Sputnik V is also likely to be rolled out by April. “We are expecting that by April, there will be at least four vaccines in India. So, there should be enough vaccines available to cover the priority group by June-July,” a senior official told TOI.
Pfizer, which has already got emergency use authorisation in the UK, Bahrain and several other countries for its vaccine candidate, has also applied in India. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC), headed by Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul, and the subject expert committee (SEC) under the Central Drugs Control Organisation will review the application over the next few days.
Sources said while the government is positive on Pfizer’s application, NEGVAC is more keen on vaccines candidates being tested in the country.
“We have vaccines that are being developed on comparatively easier platforms and are being locally manufactured. This makes procurement, supply, distribution and logistics easier for us,” the official said.
According to sources, the government is expecting around 40 crore doses of Covishield vaccine over five to six months.While the government will need around 60 crore doses of the two-dose vaccine to inoculate the targeted 30 crore priority population, it is likely to get adequate doses once Covaxin and Sputnik V are approved.
While Bharat Biotech has started phase 3 trials in India for its locally developed vaccine candidate, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is conducting local trials for Sputnik V. There is also Ahmedabad’s Cadila Healthcare which has a vaccine candidate against coronavirus in advanced phase of human trials in India.