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India Gearing Up Poll Machinery To Give 600 MN Covid Vaccine Jabs: Report

India will deploy its vast election machinery to deliver 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable people in the next six to eight months through conventional cold chain systems, the expert leading the initiative said on Friday. The government has lined up cold storage facilities with temperatures between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 48°F), said V.K. Paul, who heads the group of experts on vaccine administration for COVID-19 that advises India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Paul said these preparations meet the requirements of what he said were the four emerging candidates in the race for India’s vaccine. “The four that I can see, including Serum, Bharat, Zydus, and Sputnik need normal cold chain. I see no problem for these vaccines,” he told Reuters in an interview. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, is already mass producing and stockpiling AstraZeneca’s Covishield shot, while Indian biotech players Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila are developing their own vaccine candidates. And last month, Indian pharmaceutical player Hetero inked a deal with Russia’s RDIF to manufacture over 100 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine per year in India. The government expects the first approvals “very soon” from the independent drug regulator for emergency use, he said. “I am hoping at the earliest because we are ready.” The government, however, was yet to have formal talks on pricing and had no firm purchase orders, he said. At present, Indian regulators are considering three vaccines for emergency use authorisation, including those from Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech.

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