New Delhi: The government would look at two key considerations for prioritisation of the Covid-19 vaccine -- the occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and secondly, the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.
Besides, the supply of vaccines is anticipated to be available in limited quantities in the beginning, he added, during 'Sunday Samvaad', a weekly webinar which he hosts every Sunday for his social media audience.
"In a huge country like India, it is critical to prioritise vaccine delivery based on various factors such as per risk of exposure, co-morbidity among various population groups, the mortality rate among Covid cases, and several others," he said, while adding that India is looking at the availability of several different types of vaccines.
On the issue of emergency authorisation of Covid vaccines in India, the Minister said that the issue is being deliberated at present.
"Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorisation of vaccine for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will depend on the data generated," he added.
Harsh Vardhan also informed that Covid-19 vaccines currently in trial in India are two and three dose vaccines.
"Vaccine by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech require two doses while the Cadila Healthcare vaccine requires three doses. For other vaccines in preclinical stages, the dosing is being tested," he stated.
Three potential vaccines are being tested in India, including Covishield which was developed jointly by the Jenner institute of University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca.
Covishield is in Phase-2 and Phase-3 human trials and, if successful, will be mass produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), one of the world's largest manufacturers of vaccines. Its trials in India are running at 17 locations across the country.
Besides, Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology, are conducting Phase-1 and Phase-2 clinical trials of its vaccine candidate COVAXIN.
The third vaccine candidate under human trial is ZyCoV-D, developed by Zydus Cadila. This candidate is now under Phase-1 and Phase-2 of clinical trials.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had released 'Draft landscape of Covid-19 candidate vaccines', on September 30, where it said that as many as 191 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development across the globe. Among these, 41 candidate vaccines have made their way into clinical trials while ten have entered the third phase of clinical trials.
Harsh Vardhan also said that the government is open to assess the feasibility of introducing several Covid-19 vaccines in the country as per their availability for the Indian population.
"Considering the large population size of India, one vaccine or vaccine manufacturer will not be able to fulfil the requirements of vaccinating the whole country. Therefore, we are open to assessing the feasibility of introducing several Covid-19 vaccines in the country as per their availability for the Indian population."