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Experts stress on safety, efficacy and distribution without discrimination of COVID-19 vaccines 

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Speaking at the India Vaccine Accessibility e-Summit, Dr Suresh Jadav, executive director, Serum Institute of India said India may get a COVID-19 vaccine by March 2021 provided regulators signal with the processes fast, but Prof Bejon Kumar Misra, consumer policy expert cautioned that it is important that it is thoroughly tested before rollout

Giving an update on India’s progress in the global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Suresh Jadhav, executive director, Serum Institute of India said, “India may get COVID-19 vaccine by March 2021 provided the regulators signal with the processes fast as multiple manufacturers are working on it. India is heading fast towards vaccine development as two manufacturers are already in phase-3 trial and one in the phase-2 trial, while more players are joining the race. Usually, vaccine development takes 8-10 years, but this is the third time we are able to produce this one in a short time. The WHO has also taken initiative to make the process fast and easy.” Dr Jadhav was speaking at the India Vaccine Accessibility e-Summit organised by HEAL Foundation in association with ICCIDD.

He added that they can produce 700-800 million vaccine dosages every year once things are streamlined. “Although 55 per cent of the population is below 50 years of age, yet as per the availability of vaccines, healthcare workers should get the vaccines first, then people over 60 years of age with comorbidities followed by the rest of the populace. As far as Serum Institute is concerned, we will be ready with 60-70 million dosages of vaccines by December 2020, but that will come in the market in 2021 after the clearance of licensing. Thereafter, we will produce more and more dosages by the permission of the government,” added Dr Jadav.

On a cautionary note, Prof Bejon Kumar Misra,  consumer policy expert and founder, JAGOGRAHAK.COM, said, “Definitely, the vaccines will be a vital component in finally addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is important that the vaccine is thoroughly tested before rollout. For this, the government should involve experts from across the sectors such as experts from NGOs and private sectors. And the vaccine should be accessible to every section of society. Today, technology is the biggest enabler, which will help in this direction. In a nutshell, safety, efficacy and distribution without discrimination of COVID-19 vaccines are as important as its accessibility.”

While speaking on the accessibility conundrum of COVID vaccine Dr J L Meena, joint director, NHA agreed that the vaccine is essential to check the upsurge of COVID-19 infection. “However, the biggest challenge lies in its accessibility. The mechanism of the supply chain should also be redefined so that the distribution turns out equitably. For this, we need to prioritise the accessibility depending upon the vulnerability of the populace and take some strong action within the time limit. Effective governance is also required to carry out the judicious accessibility of the vaccine, which we have already.”

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