India may begin vaccinating people against COVID-19 in January and the government’s first priority has been the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said.

“I personally feel may be in January in any stage or any week, there can be a time when we can be in a position to give first COVID vaccine shot to people of India” Harsh Vardhan told ANI.

He was asked about India’s vaccination drive against coronavirus.

The minister said that the vaccines that have applied for emergency use authorization are being analysed by the regulator. “India is not less than any country when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine and research. Our first priority has been the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. We do not want any comprise on that. Our regulators are analysing them with seriousness,” he said.

The minister had said on Saturday that the country’s scientists and health experts have worked on the development of an indigenous vaccine and in the upcoming six to seven months India will have the capacity to inoculate about 30 crore people.

“Our scientists and health experts have worked on the development of a vaccine by genome sequencing and isolation of the coronavirus and developed an indigenous vaccine. In 6-7 months, we will have the capacity to inoculate about 30 crore people” he had said addressing the 22nd Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting on COVID-19.

There are six COVID-19 vaccine candidates in different clinical trial stages in India including Covishield, Covaxin, ZyCoV-D, Sputnik V, NVX-CoV2373 and recombinant protein antigen-based vaccine.

Besides this, three COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in the pre-clinical stage of which one of the coronavirus vaccine candidates is in the pre-development stage being researched by Aurobindo Pharma, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

“Six vaccines are in the clinical trial stage. And there are three vaccines in the pre-clinical stage. Some of them may get licensed in the coming weeks but we cannot foretell at this moment of time because licensing is the domain of the national regulator the Drugs Controller General of India,” Bhushan had said.

“These vaccines are of two to three doses. Even after vaccination, COVID-19 precautions must be followed as advised by the scientists,” he noted.

Referring to Covaxin, being manufactured by Bharat Biotech International Limited, Hyderabad in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), he said it is in phase 3 trials and is on an inactivated virus platform. The manufacturers have applied for emergency use authorisation. 

Earlier this month the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to authorise the use of Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency purposes.

On December 2, the UK became the first country in the world to authorise the use of Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency purposes, thus, paving way for the delivery of the vaccines.

The first recipient of the vaccine was Margaret Keenan from Northern Ireland who is 90-year-old. She was vaccinated at University Hospital in Coventry earlier on Tuesday.

With 26,624 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, India’s total coronavirus cases reached 1,00,31,223, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Sunday.

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