Within a few weeks India could have a COVID vaccine available, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday.
At a cross-party meeting on Friday, the prime minister said his government would probably wait until a vaccine produced in India was ready before approving a vaccination, the Hindustan Times reported.
” Experts believe that we will not have to wait long to get a vaccine,” the prime minister said. “COVID vaccines are expected to be ready in the next few weeks,” the Prime Minister said. The government is waiting for the green light from scientists,” said the prime minister.
Three COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in India are currently in various stages of clinical trials, while several more are being tested and manufactured in the country.
In late November, India’s Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan said India’s leading candidate, COVAXIN, which is being developed by the private company Bharat Biotech, could complete its final clinical trials within a month or two, Reuters reported.
During the cross-party meeting on Friday, Modi outlined for the first time how the vaccine could be distributed among India’s huge population of around 1.3 billion people.
“The first priority would be healthcare workers, frontline staff and elderly people with comorbidities,” Modi said.
India currently has the second highest number of COVID-19 infections after the United States, with more than 9.5 million confirmed cases and over 139,000 deaths.
Vardhan said in November that the government plans to vaccinate 250 million Indians by July 2020.
Given that wealthy Western nations have taken over most of the early deliveries of the leading vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, Indian officials expect to be able to rely on COVAXIN, as well as others being tested in the country, including the Russian candidate Sputnik V and the syringe developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
The latter three candidates are less expensive than the vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, which makes them a more attractive option for many countries around the world.
“The world is looking for a cheap but effective vaccine against COVID-19 and the world looks to India. You can be sure that our scientists are working hard,” said Modi.
Once a vaccine is approved in India, Modi said, the country will have a “large and experienced” vaccination network it can rely on. “We will make full use of it.”
The Prime Minister said that central and state government teams are now working together on the issue of vaccine distribution.