Covishield, the COVID-19 vaccine, could be ready by December 2020: Adar Poonawalla, SII

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Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said that the coronavirus vaccine, Covishield, could be ready as early as December 2020. He also mentioned that the first batch comprising 100 million doses may be available by early 2021.

However, all of this is subject to the Health Ministry approval.

India is the manufacturing partner of Covishield, developed jointly by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. The Pune-based firm, SII, has about 17 trial sites across India.

Earlier, the Central government had addressed a letter to states and Union Territories (UTs), outlining that the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine will take place over a year, and will start with healthcare workers.

As per sources, the letter has asked the states and UTs to put a three-tier system in place for the process. The system will comprise of a state steering committee, headed by the chief secretary, a state task force, headed by the principal secretary (health), and a district task force, led by the district magistrate. The committees will meet once a month, once a fortnight and once a week, respectively.

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It will start from a preparatory phase ad then get into the vaccine rollout phase. This is also supposed to cover any specific state issues and challenges such as geographical problems, accessibility etc.

The preparatory-phase responsibilities of the state task force include identifying “vaccinators across government and private sectors so as to minimise disruption of routine immunisation services while introducing Covid-19 vaccine”. They will also have to plan and map sessions for the vaccination of healthcare workers.

The task force will have to coordinate the larger issues at the ground level and ensure overall coordination at session sites.
After rollout, the district task force will work on developing “robust communication planning at all levels to address rumour-mongering as well as vaccine eagerness”.
They will also have to track blocks and urban areas for adherence to timelines and ensure timely disbursal of funds at all levels.


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