India has approved two Covid-19 vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — for restricted emergency use in the country against the virus. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine Covishield has been manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine producer. Meanwhile, Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech together with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The government signed purchase pacts on Monday with SII for 1.1 crore doses and for 55 lakh doses from Bharat Biotech. Over the next six to eight months, authorities estimate about 30 crore high-risk people will be inoculated. With the vaccination drive set to begin on January 16, here is everything you need to know about the two vaccines.
DRIVE AND PHASES OF VACCINATION
India will launch its vaccination drive from January 16, with priority to be given to nearly 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers. According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines, the shots will be offered first to an estimated 1 crore healthcare workers and around 2 crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated co-morbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.
Deputy CM of Gujarat Nitin Patel breaks a coconut after a consignment containing COVISHIELD arrived at the Ahmedabad airport. (Image: Reuters)
In December last year, the central government had announced the launch of the Co-WIN app to aid agencies with the distribution of vaccines to citizens. Notably, the app is also designed to enable citizens to self-register for the vaccination process.
The app comes with five modules, namely - Administrator module, Registration module, Vaccination module, Beneficiary Acknowledgement module, and Report module - to ensure smooth tracking and registration for COVID-19 vaccine in the country. The mobile app is also an upgraded version of the eVIN (Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network) and it will be available to download for free via the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, though its availability details remain unclear. The app may also launch on Jio phones that run on KaiOS.
The two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered 28 days apart, and the vaccine is expected to offer protection 14 days after the second dose is given. Effectiveness of the vaccine to be administered will be seen after 14 days of getting the dose and that a gap of 28 days has to be maintained between the two doses.
Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield has been priced at Rs 200 per shot and with GST of Rs 10, it would cost Rs 210. “We’ve given a special price of Rs 200 for the first 100 million doses only to the government of India on their request," Adar Poonawalla, Serum Institute’s chief executive, said.
Each dose of Covaxin will cost Rs 309.5, inclusive of taxes. Without the taxes it will cost Rs 295. The government, however, confirmed that of the 55 lakh Covaxin doses, 16.5 lakh will be free of cost. This effectively brings down the price of each dose to Rs 206, officials said.
Other Vaccines in Pipeline
Four more COVID-19 vaccines are in the pipeline and their manufacturers may approach the drug controller for emergency use authorisation, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. Addressing a press briefing, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Zydus Cadila, Sputnik V, Biological E and Gennova are other vaccines also in the pipeline which are in advanced clinical trials in India.
Bhushan said Pfizer-BioNTech is available at Rs 1,431 per dose, Moderna at Rs 2,348 to Rs 2,715 per dose, Sinopharm less that Rs 5,650 per dose, Sinovac Biotech at Rs 1,027 per dose, Novavax at Rs 1,114 per dose, Gamaleya Centre at less than Rs 734 per dose and Johnson and Johnson at Rs 734 per dose.