India will test its Covid-19 vaccine delivery system with a nationwide trial on Saturday as the South Asian nation prepares to roll-out an inoculation program to stem the world’s second-worst outbreak.
The federal health ministry has reviewed preparedness and asked state governments to ensure the effectiveness of the program, the government said in a statement Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech on Thursday the country was preparing to give indigenously manufactured shots to high-risk people quickly.
The government plans to inoculate 300 million people in the first phase by August, including health care and front line workers, police and military troops and those with co-morbidities and above the age of 50. It’s a daunting task for a country of more than 1.3 billion people with limited infrastructure and patchy health networks.
India is expected to initially lean on the two-dose vaccines manufactured by Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India. Serum has partnered with AstraZeneca Plc. to make at least one billion doses of their shot, half of which have been earmarked for India. Both manufacturers, along with Pfizer Inc., are seeking emergency use permission for their coronavirus shots in India.
An expert committee of India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation is scheduled to meet Friday to consider these approvals after examining safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity data from Bharat and Serum. Pfizer has asked for time to present its data, a government statement said Wednesday.
The objective of the daylong vaccine dry run is to test the links between planning and implementation and identify any challenges along the way, the government said in its statement.
BDST: 1252 HRS, JAN 01, 2021