Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday that the Ministry was prepared to roll out the vaccine for COVID-19 within 10 days of emergency use authorisation clearance and subject to final approval by the Central Government.
The announcement comes just days after the Drugs Controller General of India approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s indigenous Covaxin for restricted emergency use.
Stating that there is no ban on the export of Indian manufactured COVID-19 vaccines, Mr. Bhushan told reporters that the CoWIN app, which allows people to register themselves for the vaccine, already has the data of the priority groups.
The Secretary noted that CoWIN offers Aadhaar authentication and SMS services in 12 languages. “This technology is also available for any other in the country in the world that wants to use it,’’ he added.
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Mr. Bhushan added that India has four primary vaccine stores called GMSD (Medical Stores Organisation) situated in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and 37 State vaccine stores that branch into district vaccine stores, which are monitored in real time.
“The facility is monitored for the number of vaccines stored and temperature is tracked and updated. We have this facility for over a decade in the country,” he added.
Also speaking at the press conference, NITI Aayog member (health) V.K. Paul said that India is trying to get sufficient doses of vaccine to cover its priority group by July.
“Work is also on to specify the criteria for vaccinating beneficiaries with co-morbidities. Right now the idea is to provide maximum coverage and in that case India is lucky that it has several promising vaccine candidates in the pipeline,’’ he said.
Mr. Bhushan said that, at present, 44% of active COVID-19 cases are recovering in hospitals as they have moderate or severe symptoms while 56% of cases are very mild or asymptomatic and in home isolation. “The overall burden on health delivery structure has declined appreciably. The number of active cases in the country is less than 2.5 lakh and continues to decline. The positivity rate is at 1.97%,” he said.