An expert committee headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul will meet today to consider the logistics and ethical aspects of procuring and administering the COVID-19 vaccine. This comes in the backdrop of Russia on Tuesday claiming that it has developed the world's first COVID vaccine offering "sustainable immunity" against the coronavirus. Russia's health ministry however said though clinical trials were not yet complete and final stage testing involving more than 2,000 people was to start today. In India, the VK Paul committee on vaccine administration will engage with all stakeholders including state governments and vaccine manufacturers and its terms of reference include selecting suitable vaccines, their procurement and delivery, and prioritizing groups to administer them. "It will also look into aspects related to logistics like cold chain and inventory, the arrangement of resources for procuring the vaccine, and issues of equity.
This expert group will continue its engagement with all state governments and vaccine manufacturers in India," said Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press briefing on Tuesday. Three vaccine candidates are in different stages of human clinical trials in India. The phase-1 and 2 human clinical trials of two of them, developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, and Zydus Cadila Ltd, is going on. The Serum Institute of India has been permitted for conducting Phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of the third vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University. The Pune-based institute has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing it. The Oxford vaccine is also undergoing a final-phase-3 trial in Brazil. The Serum Institute has said it has entered into a new partnership with international vaccine alliance Gavi and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of vaccines for India and other low and middle-income countries.
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