India

"Rumours Had Also Floated When...": Health Minister On Covid-19 Vaccine

Union Health Minister harsh Vardhan is supervising the dry run in New Delhi.

New Delhi:

There should be no misconceptions about the safety of the coronavirus vaccine that India plans to use as "everything has been checked in detail", Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said today even as a dry run was on across all states to figure out the best way for mass inoculation and to plug loopholes in logistics and training.

The day-long drive tests Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN), a digital platform to roll out and scale up the vaccination drive.

"There should be no rumours about the vaccine's safety...Everything has been checked in detail. Initially when the polio vaccine was rolled out, even then rumours had floated. But once it went on the floor, all people were assured about the safety," he said in New Delhi while reviewing the progress of the drive.

Assuring everyone about its efficacy, Dr Harsh Vardhan compared it to the polio vaccine drive India had launched decades ago. "Everything is being done (in the drive), except the presence of an actual vaccine," he said.

Today's exercise is India's second one - the first was done on December 28 and 29 in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat. The guidelines were revised based on the feedback received from the previous drive, according to the Union Minister.

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The mass exercise comes a day after Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca, and manufactured by Serum Institute of India, was recommended for approval to India's drug regulator. The recommendation was made by a panel of subject experts set up by the Central government.

India's COVID-19 vaccination drive will start anytime once the regulator, Drug Controller General of India, approves a vaccine. Besides Covishield, India has also set its hopes on Covaxin, developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).