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Mission Covid Suraksha

Mission Covid Suraksha

As on June 30, 2021, India’s cumulative Covid vaccination coverage exceeded 33.54 crore. The government aims to cover 250 million “priority people” by the end of July but experts feel the pace of vaccination has been slow and needs to be accelerated.

With the first dose given to a health worker at AIIMS Delhi, India had become the first major developing country to begin the world’s biggest Covid-19 vaccination programmes earlier this year. It was on January 4 that the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved two vaccines against Covid-19 – Covishield developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covixin by Bharat Biotech for restricted use in emergency situations. The DCGI approved these vaccines after it examined the recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). As on June 30, India’s cumulative Covid vaccination coverage exceeded 33.54 crore. The government aims to cover 250 million “priority people” by the end of July. But experts say that the pace of vaccination has been slow and unless the drive is scaled up, the target could be missed. And with the second wave of Covid-19 hitting the world with vengeance, more and more people are demanding the vaccination be given to all irrespective of their age. The government had initially planned to conduct vaccination
drives age-wise.

The vaccine production was ramped up amid the deadly second wave which peaked in April- May. Apart from the two Indian vaccines – Covishield
and Covaxin – and Russia’s Sputnik V (developed by Dr Reddy’s Lab in association with Russia-based Gamaleya National Centre.) currently available in the country, two billion doses of the local version of Novavax (called Covavax), being produced by Serum Institute of India, will also be made available soon. As per the information available, Novavax was found to be more than 90 per cent effective in a ate-stage US-based clinical trial.

Further, the government has also ordered 300 million doses of another vaccine from Indian firm Biological E, the first Indian private vaccine-making company. The vaccine, developed in collaboration with US-based Dynavaxand Baylor College of Medicine, has not yet received emergency approval. But, it is in the key third phase of clinical trials and is likely to be available in the next few months. The government has also given approval to Indian pharma company Cipla to import Moderna vaccine, which has shown nearly 95 per cent efficacy against Covid-19. “The new drug permission for restricted emergency use is now in operation,” says a Health Ministry official, adding that the aim is to vaccinate all Indians by the end of this year – this though seems a bit difficult considering the shortage of doses and vaccine hesitancy among people. Vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna may also be available in India soon.

ia soon. This apart, there are some other pharma companies which too are in the process of developing vaccines against covid 19. These are in different stages of trials to test safety and efficacy. Ahmedabad-based ZydusCadila is developing ZyCov-Di vaccine. Pune-based Genova has made India’s first mRNA vaccine, HGCO19, in collaboration with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Corporation. It has done so by using bits of genetic code to cause an immune response. Besides, Bharat Biotech is also developing a nasal vaccine.

Let’s talk about the two Indian vaccines Covishield is a Recombinant Chimpanzee Adenovirus vector vaccine, which encodes the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) glycoprotein with technology transfer from Astra ZenecaOxford University while Covaxin is Whole Virion Inactivated Corona Virus Vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV). The company received the virus seed strains from ICMR and NIV and the vaccine is developed on the Vero cell platform. Covishield is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus – although it can’t cause illness. When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection. Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine which means that it is made up of killed coronaviruses, making it safe to be injected into the body. When administered, immune cells can still recognise the dead virus, prompting the immune system to make antibodies against the pandemic virus. Both the vaccines follow two dose-regimens and can be to be stored.

at 2°C-8°C. As per the DCGI, Covishield is 70.42 per cent effective and Covaxin is ‘safe and provides a robust immune response’. Covaxin has an efficacy rate of 81 per cent. With the vaccination drive going on in full swing, both the companies have sought funds from the Central Government to ramp up the production. A government-appointed interministerial panel on vaccine manufacturing visited the manufacturing facilities of both the Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute to review the production status. RenuSwarup , Secretary , Department of Biotechnology, has said that the government is ready to provide assistance under the Covid Suraksha scheme. Swarup emphasised the scheme is meant to support the research and development of coronavirus vaccines. 

Mission Covid Suraksha was launched by the Central Government in November 2020 to help accelerate the development of approximately five-six vaccine candidates and ensure these are brought closer to licensure and introduction in the market. Meanwhile, true to its philosophy of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, India is also supplying the vaccine to a large number of countries across the world. It has shipped tens of thousands of free doses of Covid-19 vaccines to several countries under “vaccine diplomacy”. It sent 64 million doses of vaccines to 84 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. The recipient countries include the UK, Canada, Brazil and Mexico. Both Covishield and Covaxin have been exported so far – some in the form of “gifts”, others in line with commercial agreements signed between the vaccine makers and the recipient nations, and the rest under the Covax scheme, which is led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and hopes to deliver more than two billion doses to people in 190 countries in less than a year. The foreign ministry says India will continue to supply vaccines all over the world after taking into account domestic requirements and international demands and obligations

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