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2.27 lakh Pregnant Women receive COVID Vaccines in less than a month


In a significant development, over 2.27 lakh pregnant women have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine under the ongoing National COVID Vaccination drive.

The state of Tamil Nadu is leading the way by vaccinating over 78,838 pregnant women, followed by Andhra Pradesh with 34,228, Odisha with 29,821, Madhya Pradesh with 21,842, Kerala with 18,423 and Karnataka with 16,673 pregnant women vaccinated.

As part of the campaign to allay fears, apprehensions, misinformed rumours and some social taboos and issues, a guidance note to assist the States/UTs in operationalizing the COVID vaccination programme for pregnant women was shared by the Union Health Ministry on 2nd July 2021. This was followed up by training of the programme managers, service providers and frontline health workers to equip them to counsel the pregnant women and their families during antenatal care about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. The States/UTs further sensitized their vaccination teams in the Government and private COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) regarding COVID vaccination for pregnant women.

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) had recommended vaccination for pregnant women leading to inclusion of pregnant women in India’s COVID Vaccination Drive. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) had unanimously recommended it earlier.  Additionally, a national level Consultation on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women was convened by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to build consensus on COVID Vaccination of pregnant women.


Record number of people vaccinated on Day 1 of Revised Guidelines


Nearly 85 Lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered till midnight yesterday on Day -1 of the implementation of 'Revised Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccination'.

Under the revised policy, the Centre is procuring 75 per cent of domestically available vaccines for providing free vaccination for all above 18 years of age.

Expressing his happiness over the record number of vaccination, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "Today's record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening. The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight COVID-19. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and kudos to all the front-line warriors working hard to ensure so many citizens got the vaccine. Well done India!"

#COVID19 #COVID19Vaccine

Decision to increase gap between COVISHIELD doses based on scientific evidence: NTAGI Chairman


Chairman of India's COVID-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), Dr N K Arora, spoke to DD News, on India's COVID-19 Vaccination Drive.

Increase in Gap between two doses of COVISHIELD based on Scientific Evidence

Dr N K Arora explained that the decision to increase the gap between two COVISHIELD doses from 4-6 weeks to 12 - 16 weeks lay in the fundamental scientific reason regarding the behaviour of adenovector vaccines.

"In the last week of April 2021, the data released by Public Health England, United Kingdom's executive agency of the Department of Health, showed that vaccine efficacy varies between 65 per cent - 88 per cent when the interval is 12 weeks. This was the basis on which they overcame their epidemic outbreak due to the Alpha variant. The UK was able to come out of it because the interval they kept was 12 weeks. We also thought that this is a good idea since there are fundamental scientific reasons to show that when the interval is increased, adenovector vaccines give a better response. Hence the decision was taken on May 13th, to increase the interval to 12 - 16 weeks." This also gives flexibility to the community, since everyone cannot come at precisely 12 weeks or so, he added.

He empathically highlighted the fact that the decision to increase the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine was taken based on scientific evidence. "We have a very open and transparent system where decisions are taken on scientific basis. The COVID Working Group took that decision, with no dissenting voice. This issue was then discussed threadbare at an NTAGI meeting, again with no dissenting notes. The recommendation was that the vaccine interval has to be 12 - 16 weeks."

Dr Arora said that the earlier decision of four weeks was based upon the bridging trial data available then. He also cited that the increase in gap between two doses was based on studies that showed higher efficacy with increase in gap. "Initial studies on COVISHIELD were very heterogeneous. Some countries like the UK went for a dose interval of 12 weeks when they introduced the vaccine, in December 2020. While we were privy to this data, when we had to decide our interval, we went for four weeks interval based on our bridging trial data which showed good immune response. Later we came across additional scientific and laboratory data, based on which after six weeks or so, we felt we should increase the interval from four weeks to eight weeks, since studies showed that vaccine efficacy is about 57 per cent when it is four weeks and about 60 per cent when it is eight weeks."

Speaking about why the NTAGI did not increase the gap earlier to 12 weeks, he said, "We decided we should wait for ground-level data from the UK (the other biggest user of AstraZeneca vaccine)."

He also said that there were other examples like Canada, Sri Lanka and few other countries which are using 12 - 16 weeks interval for AstraZeneca vaccine which is the same as COVISHIELD vaccine.

Protection from Single Dose vs. Two Doses

Dr Arora explained how emerging evidence and reports regarding the efficacy of partial vs. full immunization were being considered by NTAGI. "2-3 days after we took the decision to increase the dosage interval, there were reports from the UK that single dose of AstraZeneca vaccine gives only 33 per cent protection and two doses give about 60 per cent protection; discussion has been going on since mid-May whether India should revert to four or eight weeks."

He also said that it was decided to establish a tracking platform to assess the impact of the vaccination programme. "When NTAGI took this decision, we also decided that India will establish a vaccine tracking platform - to assess not only the impact of the vaccination programme, but also the type of vaccine and interval between doses, and what happens when someone is fully / partially immunized. This is very important in India since around 17 - 18 crore people have received only one dose, while around 4 crore people have received two doses."

Dr Arora referred to a study by PGI Chandigarh which compared effectiveness of partial vs. full immunization. "A PGI Chandigarh study very clearly shows that vaccine effectiveness was 75 per cent for both partially immunized and fully immunized. So at least in the short run, effectiveness was similar whether you are partially or fully vaccinated. This was in relation to the Alpha variant which had swept Punjab, Northern India and came to Delhi. This also meant that even if you received only one dose, still you are protected."

Results from CMC Vellore study are similar, he says. "Few days back, another very important study by CMC Vellore, Tamil Nadu which covers most of the current epidemic wave India experienced in April and May, 2021 shows that if somebody is partially immunized, vaccine effectiveness of COVISHIELD is 61 per cent and with two doses, the effectiveness is 65 per cent - and there is very little difference, especially since there is some degree of uncertainty involved in these calculations."

Ongoing Studies and Monitoring of Vaccine Efficacy

Dr Arora said that besides PGI and CMC Vellore studies, two other studies are coming up from two different organizations within Delhi. "And both these studies show that breakthrough infection with one dose is around 4 per cent, and around 5 per cent with two doses, basically hardly any difference. And the other study shows that 1.5 per cent - 2 per cent breakthrough infections."

Data from various sources will be integrated to assess and report on the impact of various aspects of the vaccination programme, says Dr Arora. He further stated that India also has a robust system for monitoring Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI).

Any Proposal to reduce COVISHIELD dosage gap?

Responding to this question, Dr Arora answers that decision will be taken scientifically, giving paramount importance to the health and protection of the community. "COVID-19 and the vaccination are very dynamic. Tomorrow, if the vaccine platform tells us that a narrower interval is better for our people, even if the benefit is 5 per cent - 10 per cent, the Committee will take the decision on the basis of merit and its wisdom. On the other hand, if it turns out that the current decision is fine, we will continue with it." He emphasised that ultimately, the health and protection given to our community is paramount. "This is the most important thing which drives our discussions, generation of new scientific evidence and decision-making," he stressed.


Vaccine Cost at Private Hospitals announced

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a memorandum on 8th June notifying the rates to be charged by the private hospitals for vaccination. 

As per the revised guidelines issued on 8th June, the price of the vaccine dose for private hospitals would be declared by each vaccine manufacturer and any subsequent changes would be notified in advance.  


Price per dose as declared by the manufacturer - 600
GST at 5% - 30
Maximum Service Charge per dose inclusive of all taxes - Rs 150
Maximum Price that can be charged by the private CVCs - Rs 780


Price per dose as declared by the manufacturer - 1,200
GST at 5% - 60
Maximum Service Charge per dose inclusive of all taxes - Rs 150
Maximum Price that can be charged by the private CVCs - Rs 1,410


Price per dose as declared by the manufacturer - 948
GST at 5% - 47
Maximum Service Charge per dose inclusive of all taxes - Rs 150
Maximum Price that can be charged by the private CVCs - Rs 1,145

#Covaxin #SputnikV #COVISHIELD #COVID19Vaccine

PM makes important announcements on COVID vaccination campaign


Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation today regarding the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the vaccination campaign in the country.

Important Points made by the PM:-


  1. From Monday, June 21st, the Government of India will provide free vaccine to every state of the country for all citizens above the age of 18.
  2. The government of India itself will buy 75 per cent of the total vaccine production from vaccine manufacturers and give it free to the state governments.
  3. No state government of the country will have to spend anything on the vaccine.
  4. Till now crores of people of the country have got free vaccine. Now people of 18 years of age will also join it.
  5. Only the Government of India will provide free vaccine to all the countrymen.
  6. Private sector hospitals can continue to directly procure 25 per cent of the vaccine being made in the country.
  7. Private hospitals will be able to charge a maximum service charge of Rs 150 for a single dose after the fixed price of the vaccine.
  8. The task of monitoring it will remain with the state governments.
  9. The government has decided that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will now be extended till Diwali.

#COVID19 #COVID19Vaccine

Health Ministry finalises advance arrangement with Hyderabad based manufacturer for 30 cr COVID19 Vaccine doses


Union Ministry of Health has finalised arrangements with Hyderabad based vaccine manufacturer Biological-E to reserve 30 crore of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

These vaccine doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by M/s Biological-E from August-December 2021. For this purpose, the Union Ministry of Health would be making an advance payment of Rs 1500 crore to M/s Biological-E.

The COVID-19 vaccine of Biological-E is currently undergoing Phase-3 clinical trial after showing promising results in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. The vaccine being developed by Biological-E is an RBD protein sub-unit vaccine and is likely to be available in the next few months.

The proposal of M/s Biological-E was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

The arrangement with M/s Biological-E is part of the wider endeavour of the Government of India to encourage indigenous vaccine manufacturers by providing them support in Research and Development and also financial support.

#COVID19 #BiologicalE #COVID19Vaccine

Haffkine Biopharma to produce 22.8 crore doses per annum of Covaxin


With the aim of vaccinating the entire eligible population at the earliest, domestic vaccine production is being steadily ramped up in the country with help from the Centre.   

As part of this initiative, three public enterprises are being supported by the Department of Biotechnology under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 Mission Covid Suraksha. These enterprises are:-

1. Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai,  

2. Indian Immunologicals Ltd, Hyderabad and 

3. Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals Ltd, Bulandshahar, UP.

Haffkine Biopharma, a Maharashtra state PSU is getting ready to manufacture Covaxin vaccine under technology transfer arrangement with Bharat Biotech Ltd, Hyderabad. The production will take place at the Parel complex of the company. 

Dr Sandeep Rathod, Managing Director of Haffkine BioPharma said the company proposes to produce 22.8 crore doses of Covaxin in a year. "For undertaking production of Covaxin, Haffkine Biopharma has been provided with Rs 65 crore grant by the Centre and Rs 94 crore from the Government of Maharashtra," he added. 

"We have been given a timeline of eight months and the work is being executed on a war footing. The vaccine production process involves two stages – drug substance and final drug product.  For production of drug substance we need to build a Bio Safety Level 3 (BSL 3) facility, while Haffkine already has the Fill Finish facility," said Rathod, the doctor turned IAS officer. BSL 3 is a safety standard applicable to such facilities where work involves microbes that can cause serious disease via the inhalation route. 

"Enhancing vaccine production capacity using Public sectors assets will go a long way in building production capacity of vaccines in our country to support the massive vaccination drive," said Dr Renu Swarup,  Secretary Department of Biotechnology and Chairperson BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council).

Haffkine BioPharmaceutical Corporation Ltd is an offshoot of the 122-year-old Haffkine Institute, which is one of the oldest biomedical research institutes in the country, named after the Russian  bacteriologist Dr. Waldemar Haffkine, who invented the plague vaccine.

#Covaxin #COVID19 #COVID19Vaccine

Moderna has refused to send vaccines to Punjab, says State Nodal Officer for vaccination


State Nodal Officer for COVID vaccination in Punjab has stated that vaccine manufacturer Moderna has refused to send direct vaccines to the Punjab government.

The Officer said Moderna has stated that according to their policy, they only deal with the Government of India and not with any state government or private parties.

Meanwhile, Punjab reported 5,421 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday (22nd May 2021) taking the tally to 533,973.

#Punjab #COVID19Vaccine

GOI provides advance information on Vaccine Doses availability till 15th June to States, UTs


In a bid to ensure smooth conduct of the COVID vaccination drive, Union Health Ministry is providing advance information on the availability of COVID vaccine doses to be supplied to the States and UTs during the two fortnights of the month, and also the amount available for direct procurement by the States from the manufacturers by the State and the private hospitals.

This point was highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his interaction with the State and District Officials on the COVID-19 situation yesterday.

Union Health Ministry has again written to the States and UTs on the allocation of COVID vaccine doses (for both Covishield and Covaxin) during May 2021 and during the first fortnight of June 2021 from the Govt of India channel (which is available free of cost), and availability of Vaccine doses (for both Covishield and Covaxin) that can be procured directly by States and Private Hospitals during months of May and June 2021. This advanced visibility will enable better and more effective planning by the States.

According to the advance visibility provided by Govt of India to States/UTs, a total of 5 crore 86 lakh and 29 thousand doses will be provided free of cost by Govt of India to States from 1st May 2021 to 15th June 2021.

In addition, as per information received from vaccine manufacturers, a total of 4 crores, 87 lakh and 55 thousand doses will also be available till the end of June 2021 for direct procurement by States/UTs.

In view of the above visibility of vaccines with clear supply timelines till June 2021, and in order to ensure efficient and judicious utilization of available doses for successful implementation of COVID-19 vaccination drive, the States/UTs have been advised the following:

  1. To prepare a district-wise, COVID Vaccination Centre (CVC)-wise plan for administration of COVID-19 vaccine.
  2. To use multiple media platforms for dissemination of such a plan to enhance awareness among the masses.
  3. Both the States Govts & Private CVCs to publish their vaccination calendar on CoWIN digital platform in advance.
  4. States & Private CVCs to desist from publishing single day vaccination calendars.
  5. To ensure that there is no overcrowding at the CVCs.
  6. To ensure that the process of booking appointments on CoWIN is hassle-free.

The States and UTs have been advised to direct the concerned officials to prepare advance plan for administration of COVID-19 vaccine till 15th of June 2021.

#COVID19 #COVID19Vaccine

CoWIN digital Portal Reconfigured


The COVID Working Group chaired by Dr N K Arora had recommended extension of the gap between the first and second doses of COVISHIELD vaccine to 12-16 weeks. This was accepted by the Government of India on 13th May 2021.

The Government of India has communicated this change to States and UTs. The CoWIN digital portal has also been reconfigured to reflect this extension of interval for two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks. As a result, further online or on-site appointments will not be possible if the period after 1st dose date for a beneficiary is less than 84 days.

Additionally, already booked online appointments for the 2nd dose of Covishield will remain valid and are not being cancelled by COWIN. Further, the beneficiaries are advised to reschedule their appointments for a later date beyond the 84th day from the date of 1st dose vaccination.

The Union Government has reiterated to the States and UTs that the online appointments booked for the 2nd dose of COVISHELD prior to this change of the interval between the two doses of Covishield, must be honoured.

The Union Health Ministry has advised the States/UTs that the field staff may be instructed that, if such beneficiaries do come for vaccination, the second Covishield dose must be administered and they must not be turned away. They have also been advised to undertake awareness activities to inform the beneficiaries about this change.

#COVID19 #COVID19Vaccine