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Young at risk, those above 50 and frontline staff to get first shot of COVID-19 vaccine

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New Delhi, Dec 09: At least one crore health care worker, two crore frontline workers including the police and armed forces and around 27 crore people above the age of 50 should be simultaneously vaccinated, a high-level expert committee recommended to the government.

The committee also said that those are less than 50 years of age-associated with comorbidities should also be simultaneously vaccinated.

Young at risk, those above 50 and frontline staff to get first shot of COVID-19 vaccine

During the meeting of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the Chief Ministers held last month, the discussion that that topped the agenda was the COVID-19 vaccine.

An expert group on vaccine administration is preparing a database for the first priority group.

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India is likely to get the first batch of anti-COVID-19 shots in late January and early February.

This would allow frontline workers like doctors, nurses and municipal staff to get the vaccine. The Indian government plans to give Serum Institute of India emergency approval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate immediately after it gets similar approval in the United Kingdom.

Serum Institute will have to apply for emergency use and the firm is expected to do so in December. The Centre is finalising a contract with the manufacturer of the vaccine for procurement of doses, following which bulk purchases would be made.

Serum Institute of India (SII) is likely to apply to India's top drug regulator next month for emergency approval for limited use of Covishield on frontline workers and elderly, the CEO of the company had said last week.

Covishield will be available for the rest of the public by March-April 2021, SII CEO, Adar Poonawalla said at the HT leadership summit. The vaccine which can be stored at temperatures between 2°C and 8°C could cost between Rs 500 and 600, he also said.

He said that the government will get the vaccine at a much lower price of around $3-$4 (approximately Rs 225-300) as they will be buying large volumes.

But "the general public, as I mentioned, will probably have to pay around Rs 500-600," Poonawalla, he said.

"As soon as the UK authorities , the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and the European EMEA (European Medicines Agency) approves it for emergency use, we will apply to the Drug Controller (DCGI) in India and, hopefully, very soon, we can also get an emergency use authorisation," Poonawalla also said.

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    "Again, that will be just to clarify a limited use for frontline workers, the elderly. It is going to take another three to four months before it's available to the general public, because that's the way the emergency use licensure will probably work, he further added.

    "We are basing the assumption of an emergency licensure based on positive UK result if we have a good UK result coming in end of November-early December, we apply for an emergency licensure use. So, you have the vaccine for - again - the vulnerable populations by Jan-Feb and then March-April for the general public," he further added.

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