India may have COVID-19 vaccine by the start of next year: Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi (NVI): Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today said that he is hopeful that by the early next year, the coronavirus vaccine will be available in India.

He also said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been personally monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Speaking at Rajya Sabha, Harsh Vardhan said, “Just like other countries, India is also making efforts. Three vaccine candidates are in different phases.”

“Under Prime Minister’s guidance, an expert group is looking at it and there is advanced planning in place. We are hopeful that by the start of next year a vaccine will be available in India,” he said regarding the coronavirus situation in the country.

His remarks come at a time when India has recorded more than 50 lakh coronavirus cases and people are eagerly waiting for the vaccine.

Moreover, the clinical trials for two indigenous vaccines by Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech are curently underway, with both completing phase 1 testing.

Serum Institute of India (SII) has again commenced the phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine after getting clearance from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). However, the Pune-based firm, is looking after the trials at 17 trial sites across India.

India is the manufacturing partner of the vaccine candidate named Covishield, developed jointly by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.

Apart from this, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered out of India, have agreed to cooperate on clinical trials and distribution of the Sputnik V vaccine in the country.

Vardhan further stated, the COVID-19 vaccine will be first made available to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity, the health minister reiterated.

The central government has been considering emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccination especially in the case of senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings, he added.

With 51,18,253 infections, India is the world’s second-worst affected country, the total number of fatalities stands at 83,198.