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Harsh Vardhan: COVID-19 Vaccine expected by Early 2021; for Old, High-Risk First

By Ishika Sahni

The coronavirus vaccine could be ready by the first quarter of 2021, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan told on Sunday. As no date has been decided for the vaccine launch, it might be ready by the first quarter of 2021, he said.

Harsh Vardhan also said that the government is seeing emergency authorization of Covid-19 vaccination to senior citizens and people functioning in high-risk settings. This should be done after a consensus has been attained, he added.

The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 is drawing up a complete strategy on how to immunize the most of the population, he said during the 'Sunday Samvad' programme where he communicated with his social media followers and answered their questions.

The Health Minister also ensured that the government is taking full precautions in supervising the human trials of the vaccine. Matters like vaccine security, equity, cost, production timelines, cold-chain requirements, etc, are also being discussed seriously, he said. He ensured the vaccine will possibly be first made available to those who require it the most, regardless of their paying capacity.

Harsh Vardhan also said that he will be happy to have the first dosage of the vaccine if few people have trust issues. His assertion arrived in the wake of an event in the UK where one of the members in the ongoing trial of the University of Oxford's vaccine candidate developed a serious complication right after being administered its dose.

The Minister circulated information regarding vaccine candidates and their development in India. He also indicated that a safe and persuasive vaccine will help in setting up immunity to Covid-19 at a much faster pace as in comparison to natural infection. It is expected that a consensus will arise in the next couple of months over the wanted level of protective herd immunity in any community, he said.

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