Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held a meeting to review India's COVID-19 vaccination strategy in which issues like prioritisation of population groups, including health and other frontline workers, and tech platform for rolling out the vaccine were discussed.
Modi tweeted that the meeting discussed important issues related to progress of vaccine development, regulatory approvals and procurement. "Reviewed various issues like prioritisation of population groups, reaching out to HCWs (health care workers), cold-chain infrastructure augmentation, adding vaccinators and tech platform for vaccine roll-out," he said.
The prime minister directed that a time-bound plan be laid out for speedy regulatory clearances and timely procurement for early roll-out of the vaccination drive when a vaccine becomes available, an official statement later said.
Database, cold chain augmentation and transportation mechanisms are being readied, with digital platform for vaccine delivery and monitoring being prepared and tested in consultation with all stakeholders, it said.
Modi also reviewed the aspects of emergency use authorisation and for manufacture and procurement of medicine.
As the results of phase-III trials from national and international vaccine arrive, our robust and independent regulators will speedily and rigorously examine these for according authorisation for use, the statement said.
Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in Phase II/III and one is in Phase-I/II.
Countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Qatar, Bhutan, Switzerland, Bahrain, Austria and South Korea have shown keen interest in partnering for vaccine development of Indian vaccines and use, the statement said.
In the meeting, the prime minister appreciated the efforts of innovators, scientists, academicians and pharma companies to develop vaccines and directed that every effort should be made to facilitate research, development and manufacturing of the vaccine.
In an effort to administer the vaccine at the first available opportunity, database of healthcare and frontline workers, augmentation of cold chains and procurement of syringes and needles among other items are in advanced stages of preparation, it said.
The vaccination supply chain is being enhanced and non-vaccine supplies are being escalated. Medical and nursing students and faculty will be involved in training and implementation of the vaccination programme.
Every step is being steadily put in place to ensure that vaccines reach every location and person according to the prioritisation principles, the statement said.
"The prime minister has directed to work in collaboration with all reputed national and international institutions and regulators to ensure the rigour and highest global standards in Indian research and manufacturing," it said.
The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in consultation with state governments and all relevant stakeholders has accelerated the implementation of vaccination of priority groups in the first phase, the statement said.
"The digital platform for vaccine administration and distribution is prepared and test runs underway in partnership with state and district level stakeholders," it said.
The government has provided an assistance of Rs 900 crore under 'Covid Suraksha Mission' to support research and development of the COVID-19 vaccination.
Appreciating the comprehensive efforts on vaccine development, Modi also emphasised that given the persisting pandemic scenario there is no place for any relaxation in preventive measures such as wearing masks, keeping distance and ensuring hygiene.
The meeting was attended by the principal secretary to the prime minister, cabinet secretary, member (health) NITI Aayog, principal scientific advisor, secretary health, DG ICMR, officers of the PMO, and secretaries of related departments of the government of India, the statement said.