With the government opening the COVID-19 vaccination drive to everyone above 18 years of age, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a meeting with vaccine manufacturers on Tuesday, sources said. During the meeting, scheduled to be held through video conference at 6 pm on Tuesday, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) will make a presentation and also coordinate with all the participants, sources added. Those expected to be present include representatives of top drugmakers from India and abroad, including the companies whose vaccines have already been approved by the Government of India.
So far, two vaccines â€” Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India and indigenously developed Covaxin by Bharat Biotech â€” are being administered in India, while a third vaccine Sputnik V, developed in Russia and to be imported and sold in India by Dr Reddy's Laboratories, has also been approved by the Indian drug regulator. Other vaccines available globally and expected soon in India include those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
While the total number of COVID-19 cases is rising at a record pace in India with the total caseload crossing 1.5 crore, the government has allowed everyone above the age of 18 years to be eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also decided to liberalise the vaccination drive by allowing states, private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure a portion of doses directly from the manufacturers.
The scheduled meeting with vaccine manufacturers will follow discussions held by the prime minister with the country's top doctors and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry on Monday. The prime minister has also held a series of meetings with government officials and other stakeholders over the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination drive.
As of Monday evening, India has administered more than 12.69 crore coronavirus vaccine doses to eligible beneficiaries, according to the Union Health Ministry.