India's health minister says 250 mln people to get first COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 2021
  • | Xinhua | October 05, 2020 12:01 PM
India's federal health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday (October 4) that the government plans to provide COVID-19 vaccines to around 250 million people in the country by July 2021.

A health worker collects a swab from a woman for a COVID-19 test in Guwahati, India, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

According to the minister, the government would receive 400-500 million vaccine doses by July next year and it would ensure "equitable access."

"A high-level expert body is studying all aspects of the vaccine, including how to ensure equitable distribution. Lists of citizen groups that would require vaccine immediately are being made by the health ministry in association with the state government," the minister said while addressing the fourth edition of his weekly social media interaction programme namely Sunday Samvaad (Sunday conversation).

Vardhan said state governments have been advised to send details of "priority population groups," referring to which sections of the population will be first in line to receive the vaccine, by the end of October.

"Vaccine procurement is being done centrally and each consignment will be tracked in real-time. Priority will be given to frontline health care workers," he said. "The government is offering full support to Indian vaccine manufacturers."

The minister's remarks come at a time when three potential vaccines are being tested in India, including Covishield which was developed jointly by the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca.

Indigenous vaccine developers Bharat Biotech are in Phase 2 trials with COVAXIN, while Zydus Cadila is waiting to receive approvals for Phase 3 clinical trials for its vaccine.

"Several vaccine trials are going on in India. At present, we can't predict which one will emerge as the most effective. But by the first quarter of 2021, we will definitely know the results," the minister said recently.

On Sunday the federal health ministry said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 6,549,373 including 101,782 deaths.

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