Union Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said that while there has been no date fixed on the availability of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, chances are it may be ready by the first quarter of 2021 considering its emergency authorisation for high-risk settings. In an online interaction under the programme “Sunday Samvad”, Harsh Vardhan said he would volunteer for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine if people have a “trust deficit” on the drug. 

“While no date has been fixed for the vaccine launch, it may be ready by the first quarter of 2021. I shall be the first to offer myself for receiving COVID-19 vaccine if people have a trust deficit. A consensus is likely to be arrived soon on emergency authorisation for COVID-19 vaccine, especially in the case of senior citizens and people working in a high-risk environment,” Harsh Vardhan said.

He assured the vaccine will be first made available to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity.

“Issues like vaccine security, cost, equity, cold-chain requirements, production timelines etc., are also been discussed intensely,” he stated.

Elaborating on the vaccine candidates and their development in India, Vardhan added that Department of Bio Technology (DBT) as well as Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have been pro-active in responding to the emerging situation to support advancement of vaccine candidates. India is actively partnering with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and trials at different phases are ongoing with respect to several vaccines in Indian laboratories (private or public) and hospitals.

Harsh Vardhan said the government is taking full precautions in conducting human trials and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 under the chairmanship of Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog is drawing up a detailed strategy on how to immunise a majority of the population.

A single-day spike of 94,372 cases has pushed India’s coronavirus tally to 47,54,356, Health Ministry data this morning showed. The death count has risen to 78,586 with 1,114 more fatalities in 24 hours. And 37,02,595 patients have recovered from the infection in the country. Maharashtra remains the state hit hardest by the pandemic followed by three southern states – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

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