New Delhi: Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said that COVID19 Vaccine launch may be ready by the first quarter of 2021.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan during an interaction with his social media followers on the ‘Sunday Samvad platform’, said, “While no date has been fixed for the vaccine launch, it may be ready by the first quarter of 2021.”
Union Health Minister said that he will be happy to take the first dosage of vaccine if some people have a trust deficit.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan also said assured that the vaccine will be first made available to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity.
Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that the Government is taking full precautions in conducting the human trials of the vaccine and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 under the Chairmanship of Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog is drawing up a detailed strategy on how to immunize majority of the population.
Union Health Minister said that issues like vaccine security, cost, equity, cold-chain requirements, production timelines etc., are also been discussed intensely.
He said that the Government is considering emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccination especially in the case of senior citizens & people working in high-risk settings.
Elaborating on the vaccine candidates and their development in India, he said 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.
The Minister also noted that a safe and effective vaccine will help in establishing immunity to COVID-19 at much faster pace as compared to the natural infection. It is hoped that a consensus will emerge in next few months over the desired level of protective herd immunity in any community, he stated.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted how the pandemic became a turning point for Indian manufacturing. From the time when there were “no indigenous manufacturers of PPEs with requisite standards, now there are nearly 110 indigenous manufacturers of PPE with requisite standards and said that the country is in a position to not only meet its own demands but also export to help out fellow nations.
In order to make the healthcare cost reasonable and affordable for the common man, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the Government has directed all States and UTs to fix a reasonable price for COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals. Free coverage up to ₹ 5 lakhs for COVID patients for those who are eligible under the Ayushman Bharat PMJAY package was announced.
Central Government has also asked States/UTs to proactively engage with the private sector health providers and consider pooling in public and private healthcare facilities, as this will help in providing prompt, good quality and reasonable health care to Covid-19 patients.
Union Health Minister has himself appealed to the private hospitals to refrain from over charging COVID patients.