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India Coronavirus Dispatch: Ministries gear up for Jan 16 vaccine roll-out

Indian vaccine makers in talks with Moderna, Bhopal Covaxin trial participants cry foul, health staff first in line on day of roll-out-news relevant to India's fight against Covid-19

Coronavirus | Coronavirus Vaccine | Coronavirus Tests

Bharath Manjesh  |  New Delhi 

covid, coronavirus, vaccine, drug, pharma
Hyderabad-based vaccine maker Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL) is in early discussions with its US biotechnology firm Moderna Inc to manufacture its vaccine in India

Ministries and state departments instructed to gear up ahead of vaccine rollout

As India inches closer to kicking off a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive on January, more than a dozen ministries and two dozen state-level departments are being mobilised for a smooth roll-out, according to a report in The Indian Express.

To ensure continuous refrigeration for the inoculations, the central power ministry has been instructed to work in tandem with state power distribution companies to have uninterrupted power supply at vaccine storage centres and vaccination points. The Railways will use "vaccine branding" on railway tickets and carry out vaccination sessions at its hospitals, dispensaries, and other places it runs. The labour ministry has been instructed to conduct vaccination sessions across Employees' State Insurance's (ESI) network of hospitals and staff. ESI is a social security and health insurance scheme for Indian workers that works as an autonomous body under the labour ministry. The defence ministry is expected to assist the supply of vaccines into hard-to-reach and danger-prone areas.

At the same time, states have been asked to gear up as well. Many state units such as the public works departments (PWD), education and police, have been tasked with specific duties. Read more here

Hyderabad-based vaccine maker IIL, others, in talks with Moderna to produce its shots locally: Report

Hyderabad-based vaccine maker Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL) is in early discussions with its US biotechnology firm Moderna Inc to manufacture its vaccine in India, according to a report in ThePrint.

IIL is in talks with Moderna through India's Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB), a premier research organisation of biology. IIL has reached out to Moderna for technical know-how on making Moderna's vaccine locally, an IIL official told ThePrint. However, IIL’s managing director K. Anand Kumar denied the talks.

The vaccine from Moderna has shown efficacy of more than 90 per cent against The United States granted it emergency use authorisation in December, the UK on Friday. France's regulator has also approved the vaccine. CCMB is in talks with several other vaccine makers to produce Moderna's vaccine locally, a CCMB official told ThePrint.

Moderna's vaccine is based on mRNA, or messenger RNA, which gives instructions to cells to produce certain substances that enable the human body to function. Such a vaccine uses carefully designed mRNA strands to teach cells to create a modified version of a key protein, prompting an immune response that can fend off the actual virus, the report said. Read more here

We were in the dark, say Bhopal Covaxin trial participants

Several persons in Bhopal have alleged that they were misled into believing they were getting Covid-19 vaccines while taking part in Bharat Biotech's ongoing trial for Covaxin, according to a report in The Hindu.

In a press conference, the persons said they were led to believe they were participating in a government-run vaccination drive and were also promised Rs 750 per person.

The trial is being carried out at the People’s Medical College, where last week a 42-year-old volunteer in the same trial reportedly passed away. However, the volunteer's post-mortem report said that “cardio-respiratory failure due to suspected poisoning” was the cause of death. Bharat Biotech has issued a statement that the death was unrelated to the trial. It is not known if the volunteer received Covaxin or a placebo. Read more here

Health staff first in line on January 16

With India days away from seeing the vaccination drive get underway, here is a report from The Indian Express that explains the order in which the priority groups will receive the shots.

About 30 million healthcare and frontline workers will be prioritised in the first phase. They will be followed by persons above the age of 50 years and those under 50 years with co-morbidities. This group numbers around 270 million people. The roll-out in these three priority groups will be guided by vaccine availability and won’t be “necessarily sequential.” States with high caseloads, such as Kerala and Maharashtra, are likely to get larger vaccine stocks, the report said.

Eligible persons need to be registered on Co-Win, India's digital platform for tracking the roll-out. The latest electoral rolls for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections will be used to identify persons above the age of 50, the report said. Read more here

OPINION: Inoculating entire population can cause harm

Vaccines provide no real benefit, and possibly some harm, to those who have already recovered from Covid-19. Therefore, it is unethical to vaccinate this group of people, says an opinion piece in ThePrint. The views expressed are by Sanjiv Agarwal, the founder of the Good Governance India Foundation, and Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University. Read more here

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First Published: Tue, January 12 2021. 14:38 IST