Early 2021 may see vaccine; ready to rake 1rst dose to remove fears about safety: Harshvardhan

Sep 13, 2020
New Delhi: India’s Covid vaccine may be ready by the first quarter of 2021, Union Heath Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced here on Sunday, and said that he will be happy to take the first dosage of vaccine to remove any doubt in people’s mind about its saftey.

He assured the vaccine will be first made available to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity.

The Government is taking full precautions in conducting the human trials of the vaccine and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 under the Chairmanship of Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog is drawing up a detailed strategy on how to immunize majority of the population, Dr Harshvardhan said answring questions posed by his social media followers on the Sunday Samvad platform.

“Issues like vaccine security, cost, equity, cold-chain requirements, production timelines etc., are also been discussed intensely”, he stated.

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.

The Minister informed that while no date has been fixed for the vaccine launch, it may be ready by the first quarter of 2021.

Further, he said that the Government is considering emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccination especially in the case of senior citizens & people working in high-risk settings, which shall be done after a consensus has been reached.

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 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 also noted that a safe and effective vaccine will help in establishing immunity to COVID-19 at 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 stated.

Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that the Government is seized of the evolving nature of the infection and emerging evidence of the systemic health complications in those who have been infected. AIIMS and other research institutions have been asked to undertake research to study the long-term impact of COVID. ICMR is establishing a National Clinical Registry on COVID that will provide insights into clinical course of COVID-19 disease, its spectrum and outcome of patients. Expert group consultations are already going on to review the emerging evidence and generate our own data on organ system specific (respiratory system, renal system, cardiovascular and gastro-intestinal) sequelae of COVID, he stated.

Describing the NDHM is one of the most ambitious missions of the Government of India and is set to catapult India as a global leader in the field of digital health, he said, there were, however, vested interests that dd not want India to succeed and are spearheading a disinformation campaign against NDHM.”

Allaying fears, he clarified that it is an utter lie that those who do not become part of this system shall not be allowed to access the hospitals. “Those persons or institutions who are not a part of this system shall continue to enjoy access to the healthcare system in exactly the same manner as they are doing now. Participation in the digital health ecosystem shall be totally optional and shall never be made mandatory for individuals”.