The first batch of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine will be arriving in India in the next few days, government sources told CNN-News18 on Saturday.
With the arrival of the vaccine, India is set to administer four varieties of the jab against Covid-19 to its population: Covaxin, Covishield, Sputnik V and Moderna.
The government has also reiterated in recent Health Ministry briefings that Pfizer may be coming to India, soon.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla had in June said his firm was in the final stages of getting approval for its Covid-19 vaccine from the Indian government, adding that when approved, the pharma giant will supply one billion doses to India within this year.
Here is a lowdown on the vaccine options India is, and is set to provide its citizens with:
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine ‘Covishield’ is locally manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
A weakened variant of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimps is used to create the vaccine. It has been altered to resemble coronavirus, despite the fact that it cannot cause illness. When a patient receives the vaccination, it triggers the immune system to produce antibodies and prepares it to fight any coronavirus infection.
The vaccination is given in two doses, four to twelve weeks apart. It can be safely maintained at temperatures ranging from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and simply supplied in existing health-care facilities such as doctors’ offices.
Covishield and Covaxin were the vaccines India kicked off its ambitious vaccination drive with on January 16. Cumulative vaccine doses administered so far has reached 34.46 crore under the drive, the Health Ministry said on Friday.
Covaxin is a manufactured by Bharat Biotech, a 24-year-old vaccine company that exports to 123 countries and has a portfolio of 16 vaccines, using a coronavirus sample isolated by India’s National Institute of Virology. The vaccine works with an inactivated virus, meaning it is made up of coronaviruses that have been killed, making it safe to inject into the body.
Private hospital chains Fortis Healthcare and Apollo Hospitals have started administering Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V at two of their hospitals in Delhi-NCR. Indraprastha Apollo in Delhi started administering Sputnik V in a staged manner from Wednesday. Around 1,000 people have been vaccinated so far.
“On-the-spot registration and walk-in facility for Sputnik V is currently restricted, we are encouraging beneficiaries to take appointments through the CoWin app,” the official said. According to a Fortis Healthcare official, the hospital chain started providing Sputnik V jabs last week at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram and Fortis Hospital, Mohali.
Sputnik V, manufactured by Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, uses two different viruses that cause the common cold (adenovirus) in humans. The two doses, given 21 days apart, are different and not interchangeable. The Centre has fixed the price of the vaccine at Rs 1,145 per dose.
The maximum price of Covishield for private COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) has been fixed at Rs 780 per dose, while that of Covaxin is Rs 1,410 per dose. Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology has developed the vaccine and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is marketing it globally.
About 120 million Americans have received a Pfizer or Moderna shot so far with no major safety issue identified.
The United States and European Union are pushing to stock up on even more of the mRNA vaccines. Japan is also working to secure 100 million doses of Pfizer’s shot by the end of June. The higher cost, production limits and demanding requirements for shipping and storage could limit mRNA-based vaccines’ availability in lower income countries, experts said.
India is receiving the Moderna vaccine doses under the COVAX scheme of the World Health Organisation, a few days after the DGCI granted approval to it.
Pfizer-BioNTech (Deal Underway)
On December 11, 2020, Pfizer became the first Covid-19 vaccine to receive an FDA EUA, after the company reported positive clinical trial data.
It is being administered in all US states, among other countries. In India, the vaccine is among the options to inoculate children, as well as to expand the vaccination drive among adults.
A Phase 3 trial in children aged 12-15 years showed high efficacy and good safety in this age group, leading to an extension of the previous age indication from 16 years onwards down to age 12 onwards, according to WHO.
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria in an interview with CNN-News18 had said that granting indemnity to Pfizer would boost Covid-19 vaccination for not just children, but also adults.
The Centre may grant indemnity from liability to Pfizer and Moderna to speed up approvals for the vaccines in India, health ministry sources had told News18 earlier. A top official had also earlier said that according to the government, “there is no issue” in granting indemnity to the two giants – Moderna and Pfizer – in India and the approval will be in line with the approach taken by US and other countries administering both vaccines.