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Coronavirus : India is biggest buyer of COVID-19 vaccines :- research

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  • Tip Bones

India has purchased 500 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate, 1 billion from the U.S. company Novavax and 100 million doses of the Sputnik V candidate from Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, according to the U.S.-based Duke University Global Health Innovation Center.

India is the largest buyer of COVID-19 vaccines in the world with 1.6 billion doses, according to a global analysis, a number some scientists say could cover 800 million people, or 60% of its population, and will be enough to develop ‘herd immunity’.

According to the analysis, India is the top COVID-19 vaccine buyer followed by the European Union, which has confirmed 1.58 billion doses, and the U.S., the worst affected country so far, that has managed to purchase just over a billion doses.

 “The data is based on what is in the public domain and after speaking to government officials, especially in India,” explained noted virologist Shahid Jameel.In November, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said 400-500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were estimated to be made available for 250 to 300 million (25 crore to 30 crore) people in India by July-August 2021.

Countries with manufacturing capacity, such as India and Brazil, have been successful in negotiating large advance market commitments with leading vaccine candidates as part of the manufacturing agreements, the Duke researchers noted in their analysis.

India’s domestic vaccine candidate by Bharat Biotech also entered Phase 3 clinical trials this week. Bharat Biotech and Zydus-Cadila would also add about 400 million doses annually.

He noted that 1.6 billion doses would cover 800 million people or 60% of India’s population.

This, the virologist said, should be enough to develop herd immunity, a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection.

In brief, the numbers appear reasonable over 2021 and 2022, said Dr. Jameel, director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University.Dr. Jameel told PTI that all the vaccines ‘pre-booked’ by India are manufactured by Indian companies — Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax by Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune and Sputnik V by Dr. Reddy’s Lab in Hyderabad.

The first 500 million doses, the virologist said, are likely to go to 250 million people in the group that includes frontline workers, healthcare workers, sanitation, emergency services, and security services.

Since all the vaccine candidates that are being discussed as purchased have two-dose vaccine regimens, the current number for India would vaccinate, at best, 80 crore (800 million) people.

Also, this seems to imply that COVID-19 vaccination is a one-time exercise. But it is not clear how long the vaccine-mediated protection will last, and therefore, it is not clear when repeat vaccination will be needed, and how that will be delivered, he added.

This, of course, does not account for logistical losses, which can be substantial, Dr. Rath, from the National Institute of Immunology (NII) in New Delhi, said.

Immunologist Satyajit Rath said there is currently no particularly reliable estimate of the percentage of community coverage needed to be vaccinated in order to reach the point of ‘herd immunity’. The reliability of models being used for these estimations is far from clear, he stressed.