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New Delhi (Sputnik): Unlike some other countries, India is yet to sign a pre-production deal with any of the frontrunner vaccine manufacturers. The country has five domestic vaccines in the race, three of which have entered clinical trials.
The Indian government has held talks to potentially finalise a procurement deal and has asked the Indian vaccines in the race to provide details within three days on how soon they can produce large quantities and at what price, if the candidate is declared successful.
In a meeting held between an expert panel, comprised of senior health officials, and five Indian manufacturers, it was revealed that the government is working on procuring the final product keeping in mind the parameters of availability and access to the population.
“As part of India’s proactive, pre-emptive, and graded response to COVID-19 since January, the expert group is holding consultations with vaccine manufacturers to plan ahead for the production, pricing, and distribution of the vaccine, whenever it is ready”, Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told the media.
While the Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, and Zydus Cadila are in the process of human trials now, Biological E and Gennova are still in the pre-clinical phase. The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, has a license to produce and hold clinical trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. None of the Indian vaccine candidates have published their trial data yet.
The panel clarified that they are not looking at a fixed number to pre-order, and that they are closely tracking progress of the vaccine candidates.
“The meeting …provided the National Expert Group with input about the present stage of various candidate vaccines being developed by indigenous manufacturers as well as their expectations from the federal government”, the ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Standing Technical Sub-Committee of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has been assigned the task of selecting the right vaccine for use in the country. The federal government has emphasised that it will take charge of procurement instead of the states, once a vaccine is finalised.
India’s COVID-19 tally continues to grow, with a spike of 55,079 cases and 876 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total caseload is 2,702,743, including 673,166 active cases and 51,797 deaths. Some 1,977,780 people have been cured and discharged so far.