The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) will address a press conference today at 11 am and it is being expected that the drug controller watchdog may announce the approval of emergency use of two vaccines. The development comes after the government panels recommended — Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin — for emergency use. On January 1, Covishield was recommended for emergency use while COVAXIN was recommended for restricted use on January 2. Now a final approval on the use of both the vaccines awaits DCGI nod.
Don't be misguided by rumours
On Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealed to people not to be misguided by "rumours" regarding the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine, and said the most prioritised beneficiaries would be vaccinated for free. Vardhan stressed that there would be no compromise on any protocol while approving the vaccine.
The minister, who visited two mock vaccination sites in Delhi to review the drill, said free vaccines would be provided in the first phase of the inoculation drive to the most prioritised beneficiaries, including one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers.
He added that details were being finalised about how 27 crore priority beneficiaries -- those above 50 years of age and those below it having comorbidities -- would be vaccinated until July.
The minister dispelled doubts regarding the country's capability to undertake such a massive vaccination drive, describing how India had unparalleled experience in dealing with immunisation and runs one of the largest such programmes in the world.
Not one but DCGI may approve two vaccines for emergency use
DCGI roday may approve not one but two vaccines for emergency use as both Covishield and Covaxin (India's indigenously developed vaccine) have been recommended by experts panel.
India, since October, November 2020, was already expecting a possible launch of vaccines in January 2021 or in the first quarter of the year as the two front runners were in the final stage clinical trials.
A couple of weeks ago, PM Modi, who previously reviewed the vaccine development process, had said that India will not have to wait for the vaccine for long.
India undergoes dry run of the vaccination process
On Saturday, the country underwent a dry run of the vaccination process to test its systems and overcome loopholes that may surface once the vaccination process starts.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) conducted the nationwide mock drill at 285 session sites to test the end-to-end planned operations and the mechanism that has been set up to ensure smooth conduct of the Covid-19 vaccination. This dry run of the vaccination drive spread across 125 districts covers all states and UTs having adequate representation of urban and rural districts along with hard-to-reach areas, said an MoHF statement.
On the Centre's directive, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana along with Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Gujarat were among many states and UTs who conducted a dry run and mock drills for Covid-19 vaccination earlier in the day, aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for the vaccination roll-out in the health system.
The Centre had directed earlier to conduct a dry run by all state and UTs on January 2 to test the linkages between planning and implementation, and to identify the challenges.