Bangalore airport officials transfer cardboard boxes containing vials of Covishield vaccine developed by the Indian Serum Institute in Bangalore, India, on January 12, 2021.
Stringer | Xinhua | Getty images
SINGAPORE – India is preparing for one of the largest mass vaccination exercises in the world, starting on Saturday.
The South Asian country plans to inoculate about 300 million people, or more than 20% of its 1
Indian airlines began delivering the first doses of vaccines to Delhi and other major cities, including Kolkata, Ahmedabad and the Bengaluru Technology Center, Civil Aviation Minister Hardyip Singh Puri tweeted earlier this week.
Priority for the photos will be given to health and other frontline employees – about 30 million people. This will be followed by those over the age of 50 and other younger, high-risk individuals.
Dissemination will involve close cooperation between the central government and the states.
India has also developed a digital portal called the Co-WIN vaccine management system. It will provide real-time information on “vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individual monitoring of beneficiaries,” according to the health ministry.
“India’s experience in vaccine production and its experience with mass immunization campaigns have prepared it well for the Phase 1 vaccinations that are due to begin this weekend,” Achilles Berry, a South Asian analyst at Eurasia Group, said in a report this week.
“India has a long history of immunization campaigns, including its Universal Immunization Program, which inoculates 55 million a year, and will rely on this expertise to distribute coronavirus vaccines,” he added.
The Indian Drug Regulatory Authority has approved the limited use of two emergency coronavirus vaccines, both of which are delivered to various inoculation centers before Saturday.
One is a vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is produced domestically by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and is known locally as Covishield.
Another vaccine, called Covaxin, was developed internally by Indian Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian State Council for Medical Research. He received an emergency use permit as clinical trials continued.
Covaxin’s approval has reportedly been criticized by some because the regulator gave the green light shortly after asking Bharat Biotech for more analysis.
Indian Health Minister said on Tuesday that the Indian government had signed public procurement agreements for 11 million doses of Covishield at 200 Indian rupees ($ 2.74) per dose and 5.5 million doses of covaxin at an average price of 206 rupees per shot, which is likely to be cheaper than what it will cost in the private market.
Several other candidates, including a second vaccine developed in the country by Zydus Cadila, are undergoing clinical trials.
There are currently more than 10.5 million reported cases of coronavirus in India, second only to the United States. More than 151,000 people have died from Covid-19 in India, according to data from John Hopkins University. But daily reports show that the number of cases of active infection is declining.
The largest country in South Asia is also the largest producer of vaccines in the world and is said to produce about 60% of all vaccines sold worldwide.
As such, the production of Covid vaccines in India is expected to play a major role in global immunization mechanisms against the disease.
Bery of the Eurasia Group said that despite the government’s optimism, two important risks could potentially delay the spread of the vaccination campaign.
“First, vaccine production capacity will be limited even at best,” he said, adding that if local vaccine manufacturers cannot produce the 600 million doses needed to inoculate the initial 300 million people, then the immunization India’s schedule – and the export of vaccines to other countries – could be significantly delayed. “
The second risk is that the vaccination campaign in India will rely heavily on state governments, “whose capacity and experience vary considerably,” Berry said. “Effective coordination between the central and state governments will be needed, something that was not Modi’s (Prime Minister Narendra’s) strength.”