Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday emphasised that no compromise has been made on scientific and regulatory norms related to the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Minister's assertion holds importance at a time questions are being raised on both the safety and efficacy of the vaccines which are being developed at a phenomenal rate at a time the world is struggling to find a silver bullet to end its pandemic woes.

"With stringent oversight, we are sure that there is no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms, stretching from safety of the trials to the efficacy of the vaccine," said Harsh Vardhan, while addressing the World Bank's high-level inter-ministerial meet on vaccination.

He, however, assured that vaccine will be available in the coming few weeks and the vaccination process will kick-start as soon as it is approved by the regulatory agency concerned, the Drugs Controller General of India.

As many as eight Covid-19 vaccine candidates are under different stages of clinical trials and could be ready for authorisation in near future, including three indigenous vaccines.

These include Astrazeneca and Oxford University developed and Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Ltd, ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila, Russian vaccine candidate Sputnik-V, NVX-CoV2373 by the SII, HGCO19 by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, and two unlabelled vaccines - Recombinant Protein Antigen based vaccine by Biological E Ltd -and Inactivated rabies vector platform by Bharat Biotech.

Healthcare, Frontline Workers At Higher Risk Of Infection, Should Get COVID Vaccine First: Experts

Meanwhile, health experts on Thursday said people who are at higher risk of infections such as healthcare and frontline workers, followed by the elderly and those under 50 with comorbidities should be vaccinated first.

According to Bishnu Panigrahi, Group Head, Medical Strategy and Operations at Fortis Hospital, frontline healthcare workers will be the first in line for Covid vaccination.

"Next should be all those involved in public services like municipal workers, those manning public transport, frontline police personnel, those manning essential services like electricity, water supply and disaster management staff," he told IANS.

"Then there should be an age above which all will be vaccinated and those with certain comorbid conditions, irrespective of age, will be vaccinated. Finally, all citizens will be vaccinated," Panigrahi explained.

Recently, Union Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said that 30 crore people have been listed in prioritised population groups, which involves one crore healthcare workers, two crore personnel from the police department, armed forces, home guard, civil defence organisation and 27 crore people above the age of 50 and below 50 with comorbidities.

Speaking to IANS, Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director, ENTOD Pharmaceuticals, a Mumbai based pharmaceutical company, said that top priority should be given to the healthcare workers, followed by frontline workers, elderly population and those under 50 with comorbidities.

The Union Health Ministry had said that 1.54 lakh vaccinators or auxiliary nurse midwives will administer the Covid-19 vaccine to people under the universal immunization programme when the vaccination process begins.

Dr Shiba Kalyan Biswal, Consultant, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Narayana Hospital in Gurugram, told IANS: "As far as rapid virus spread is concerned immunocompromised patients, diabetic patients along with chronic lung, liver, kidney disease patients, doctors and healthcare staff should be first in the priority list to get this."

According to Dr Neha Gupta, Infectious Diseases Physician at Medanta Hosptial in Gurugram, it should be prioritised for people who are at higher risk of infections and a higher risk of adverse outcomes -- healthcare workers, the elderly, obese patients, patients with heart diseases.

Besides this, key strategies for the vaccination programme involve orderly, smooth implementation driven by technology, no compromise on existing healthcare services, ensuring people's participation and no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms.

With 31,521 new coronavirus cases and 412 deaths in the past 24 hours, India's overall tally stood at 97,67,371 on Thursday, while the death toll reached 1,41,772, the Health Ministry said.

Till now 92,53,306 people have recovered, while there are 3,72,293 active cases. The recovery rate stands at 94.74 per cent, and the fatality rate is 1.45 per cent.

(With IANS Inputs)

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