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Occupational hazard, exposure risk are key factors for prioritising COVID-19 vaccine: Dr Vardhan

Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorization vaccine approval for ensuring patient safety, he said.

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Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare clarified that it is anticipated that supplies of COVID-19 vaccines would be available in limited quantities in the beginning, answering queries on how the government plans to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine by prioritising target groups in the entire population. He was speaking to his social media interactors on the fifth episode of Sunday Samvaad.

He said, “In a huge country like India, it is critical to prioritise vaccine delivery based on various factors such as per risk of exposure, comorbidity among various population groups, the mortality rate among COVID cases, and several others.”

He also added that India is looking at the availability of several different types of vaccines, of which some may be suitable for a particular age group while others may not be.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “the prioritisation of groups for COVID-19 vaccine shall be based on two key considerations: occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality.”

Reiterating that the most important component of the planning is the cold chain and other logistics which need to be planned appropriately to ensure no glitches occur in vaccine delivery even at the last mile, Dr Harsh Vardhan highlighted the need of the massive advocacy required for building community sensitisation activities to understand the reasons for vaccine hesitancy and address them appropriately.

On the issue of Emergency Use Authorization of COVID vaccines in India, the Minister said that the issue is being deliberated at present. “Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorization vaccine approval for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will depend on the data generated,” he added.

He informed that COVID-19 vaccines currently in trial in India are two-dose and three-dose vaccines. Vaccine by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech require two doses while the Cadila Healthcare vaccine requires three doses. For other vaccines in preclinical stages, the dosing is being tested, he stated.

On the need to include other novel candidates as COVID vaccine, he said, “Considering the large population size of India, one vaccine or vaccine manufacturer will not be able to fulfil the requirements of vaccinating the whole country. Therefore, we are open to assessing the feasibility of introducing several COVID-19 vaccines in the country as per their availability for the Indian population.”

(Source: PIB)

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