01/8We are inching closer to have a COVID-19 vaccine ready

We are inching closer to have a COVID-19 vaccine ready

Even as coronavirus cases continue to spike in an alarming manner in India, which is now the second-worst affected nation by the pandemic, the country's position as one of the prime vaccine production countries has raised strong hopes that a vaccine for our 1.3 billion population will be available early.

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02/8At least four vaccine trials are being conducted in India

At least four vaccine trials are being conducted in India

Pan India, several trials, including Covaxin, ZyCov-D, Covishield (oxford-AstraZeneca) are being carried out at different phases. Russian phase III vaccine trials are also expected to launch soon in India. While trials are being conducted following all measures, top medical officials have raised hopes that the expedited trials will make way for an earlier than estimated vaccine launch in the country.

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03/8COVID-19 vaccine could reach us earlier than expected

COVID-19 vaccine could reach us earlier than expected

Raising further hopes, ICMR scientist Gagandeep Kang offered positive reassurance that a COVID vaccine would be available for everyone by early next year.

Earlier, it was said that vaccine launch could only be possible by the second half of next year.

The statement follows up Dr Sanjay Rai's, a doctor from AIIMS and principal investigator in the Covaxin trials, who suggested that early doses of an approved COVID vaccine would be available by mid-2021.

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04/8Delivery still an issue, feels Kang

Delivery still an issue, feels Kang

Speaking to Bloomberg, Gagandeep Kang, who is a Medical Scientist and Former Chair Member of ICMR Panel on COVID drugs and vaccines said that it is easy to produce a vaccine in India, given its vast resources, but delivering it to the masses will be the real challenge authorities are likely to encounter.

“By year-end, we will have data that will tell us which vaccines are working and which ones are not going to do so well,”

However, adding a word of caution, the scientist also said that the vaccine would only be given the go-ahead if observers see good and safe results.

“If we get good results by year-end then we are looking at vaccines being potentially available in tiny numbers in the first half of 2021 and larger numbers in the latter part.”

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05/8Could the first COVID vaccine doses be safe for us?

Could the first COVID vaccine doses be safe for us?

Dr Harsh Vardhan, who heads the Union Ministry for Health has also cautioned the public to be assured of the safety of vaccines, adding that he is willing to take the first available shot of a vaccine so that people can trust on its efficacy rates.

Kang, who, until July was heading the government panel on COVID-vaccines also said most vaccines being tried on in India (including the controversial Russian Sputnik V) had a success rate of 50%. A vaccine would only be administered to the public if it carries safety rates of over 65%.

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06/8Why is mass-scale immunisation a challenge for India?

Why is mass-scale immunisation a challenge for India?

India might be one of the top vaccine production hubs for the world, but there are challenges the country faces within its boundaries. Unlike other countries, immunization programs, especially the ones targeted for adults aren't well-structured and there still needs to be a lot more awareness needed to make the public aware about the workability and safety of a vaccine.

Currently, government authorities have strategized vaccine delivery for young children. Centralized immunization schemes for pregnant women and children are in place for the same.

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07/8We need more awareness for adult vaccination programs

We need more awareness for adult vaccination programs

Lack of awarenesses is also one of the reasons why flu vaccination is still not rampantly available in the country. A lot of experts have also said that timely flu vaccinations could reduce the severity and infection risk associated with COVID-19.

Again, a patchy healthcare system, which is only beginning to cope with the demands of the pandemic and flawed networks can only make vaccination drives, as and when a COVID vaccine comes, more difficult. Hence, effective strategising and creating channels for easy delivery need to be put in place way before we reach the crucial stage of vaccine development and delivery.

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08/8How will the COVID-19 vaccine administration take place in India?

How will the COVID-19 vaccine administration take place in India?

Kang, who works as microbiology professor earlier had also said thatinfrastructural hurdles also need to be worked out to store the millions of doses which shall be made ready in the coming months.

From the Oxford vaccine to the Russian one, and the homegrown vaccines currently in phase II/III of development, experts have suggested that we will see anywhere between 100-300 million doses in the first six months of 2020.

"It takes time to make a vaccine and the reason why vaccine manufacturers are now trying to buy facilities, book time at the manufacturing facilities, is because they want to be able to make the vaccine even before it is proven safe and effective...That is the fastest way to get to the market but the whole process of regulation takes time. It will take time to review the dossiers, it will take time to get the vaccine licensed, and once the vaccine is licensed we have to think about the logistics of distribution… You need something that fits in with your cold chain infrastructure, you need to be able to buy the vaccine, you need to land the vaccine, you need to distribute the vaccine, you need to train staff in how to give the vaccine."

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