Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to hold virtual meetings with chief ministers and other representatives of states and union territories on Tuesday to review the COVID-19 situation and discuss strategy for vaccine distribution. Even as the national daily COVID-19 case count has remained below 50,000 for some time, many urban centres have witnessed a surge, forcing enforcement of several measures and curfews in some cities.
Modi is likely to attend two back to back meetings, one with eight states with high caseloads and another with states and UTs to discuss vaccine distribution strategy, sources told news agency PTI. He has held a number of virtual meetings with states over the coronavirus situation.
The central government has also been putting in place measures for quick and effective distribution of coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in Phase II/III and one is in Phase-I/II trials.
Meanwhile, experts have identified logistics and supply as some of the challenges for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. “There is no adult vaccination programme in the country except tetanus for pregnant women. Even immunisation of children had its share of difficulties with many people not vaccinating, Dr. Rakesh Mishra, Director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) said. He said most vaccines may require at least two doses, possibly the second one to be administered after a certain number of days, which increases difficulties in logistics and supply. The vaccines of some companies require a minus 70 degree cold chain which would be tough to arrange beyond major cities, he told PTI. Mishra said a major concern was that it would not be known till two or three years whether a vaccine was really good or not for long term protection
The Serum Institute of India is conducting phase-3 trial of the Oxford vaccine,while that of the indigenously developed COVAXIN of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has already begun. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories would conduct the phase 2/3 human clinical trials of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, in India. Also, the Biological E Ltd has started Phase I/II clinical trial of its COVID-19 subunit vaccine candidate in India.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have announced that their vaccine candidate was found to be 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19, while Modernahas claimed that its vaccine candidate was found to have an efficacy of nearly 94.5 per cent.