Recently, India announced that they would approve the usage of emergency coronavirus vaccines, which received an emergency go-ahead from WHO and regulators of Europe, Japan, Britain, and the US.
The Health Ministry said that their decision aims to hasten the usage of shots made in other countries. The focus is to expand the “basket of vaccines” that is available for domestic use.
The pandemic has hit India in the worst possible way right now
India has a population of 1.4 billion, and the country is currently going through one of the worst phases of the pandemic. The numbers of positive cases are rising every day. Today, the country reported having 3,32,730 new coronavirus cases and 2,263 deaths in 24 hours. The hospitals are overcrowded, and many people do not have space to admit themselves. There is also a shortage of oxygen, and states are on the verge of collapsing.
The only way India can come out of the current situation is by vaccinating more and more people. However, there is also a shortage of vaccines. Even though India is one of the largest producers of coronavirus vaccines, the country cannot meet public demands.
There have been delays in distributing the UN-backed COVAX vaccine that was primarily aimed to be distributed equitably. The country had given the nod to the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India and one more vaccine made by Bharat Biotech.
India accepts emergency coronavirus vaccines
Currently, India has received the authorization of emergency use of the coronavirus vaccines. The regulators that back this decision are from the US, the UK, Europe, and Japan. Further, India can now use vaccines recommended by WHO. Moreover, Sputnik V has also received a go-ahead for emergency use in India.
The Indian Health Ministry confirmed following safety precautions for the first trial that includes 100 people for inoculation. The outcome will determine if masses can receive the vaccines or not.
Ashoka University researcher, Dr. Shahid Jameel, said that with the current surge of the coronavirus, it is less likely that the country can manage the ongoing pandemic. However, with the latest vaccine drive, more and more people will get vaccinated and safeguarded from severity. Moreover, if the vaccine drives are quickened, there is a greater possibility of exporting the vaccine to make optimum usage within the least possible time.
The doctor says that the current drive of vaccination will help the country use shots produced by companies with manufacturing partners in India. For example, Biological E Ltd has come into a contract with Johnson & Johnson to produce the coronavirus vaccine produced by them.
What to expect from the usage of emergency coronavirus vaccines?
Dr. Jameel said that the vaccine drive could open up markets for vaccines that need an ultra-cold storage facility. Thus, they can be sold in cities where such facilities are present.
The price per vaccine right now in India is between INR 250 to 600 or USD 3.30 to 8. But the new vaccine drive might help the government subsidize vaccines for poor people who cannot afford expensive vaccines.
India and Russia come together to produce Sputnik V
Russia collaborates with five Indian pharmaceutical companies to produce more than 850 doses of Sputnik V. A recent deal with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories will allow trials and distribution of 250 million vaccine doses in India. However, it will take time. The deal happened between March and April, the vaccine distribution will not be before the later part of 2021.
The first deal between India and Russia was for 100 million doses. Hetero Biopharma is supposedly producing the doses, but the status is unclear. The company has not responded with their progress as well.