Explained: Why Centre unlikely to procure Pfizer's 95% effective vaccine?
New Delhi, Dec 14: As India braces for one of the largest Covid-19 immunisation drives in the world, Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine, which is 95 per cent effective in preventing the Covid-19 infection, seems to be an exception.
Centre may not procure the mRNA vaccine, which American major Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech have developed over its high cost for the immunisation drive in India. The government officials have indicated that Pfizer would not be favourable to include in the immunisation drive as they are expensive and need a sub-zero storage condition.
At $37 i.e., Rs 2,728, the covid vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer is more expensive compared to the Russian vaccine Sputnik V that costs $10 (Rs 737). Covishield, a vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, costs only $3 per dose while indigenous vaccines from Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila are expected to be in the range of $3-6 per dose.
Meanwhile, Pfizer's vaccine candidate needs to be stored at minus 75°C and can be kept in the fridge for five days. Moderna's vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 is expected to remain stable at standard refrigerated conditions of 2°C to 8°C for up to 30 days within the 6-month shelf life.
The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved for the public in the UK, Canada, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Vaccine efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics. The observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94 per cent.
Historic COVID-19 vaccine gets underway in US
The historic project to stop the pandemic kicked off on Sunday with the first trucks carrying a COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the US pulling out of a Michigan manufacturing factory.
The workers at the Pfizer factory in Michigan began packing the first shipments of the vaccine in dry ice shortly after 6.30 am ET on Sunday. Three trucks carrying pallets of boxed, refrigerated vaccines rolled out of the factory, escorted by body armour clad security officers in a pickup truck and SUV.
India's mega vaccination drive
The central government has planned an extensive vaccination campaign on how to use the vaccine whenever it is available.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a draft said that every Covid vaccination centre can vaccinate 100 people in one day."One session for 100 beneficiaries. While most of the healthcare and frontline workers would be vaccinated at fixed session sites, vaccination of other high-risk population may require outreach session sites, and mobile sites and teams," the ministry said in the document, "COVID-19 Vaccines Operational Guidelines".
The government is expected to deploy its vast election machinery to deliver 60 crore doses of Covid vaccines to 30crore Indians, including healthcare and frontline workers, priority groups above the age of 50 and those under 50 with comorbidities.
India is gearing up with 28,947 cold chain points and 85,643 pieces of equipment across the country that are capable of storing vaccines needed for the first set of 3 crore health and frontline workers.