SUN 19 Sep, 2021
Science & Technology

Vaccine may be available at pharmacies by second quarter 2021

Depending on the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines available by the second quarter of 2021, experts making vaccine-related decisions are considering making shots available for private use for those who can afford to pay even as inoculation of the vulnerable population is expected to begin early next year once a candidate is finalized.

“This is something that was also done for the influenza vaccine; those who can pay are allowed to access the vaccine in private (market) with certain riders,” another senior official in the government, who too spoke condition of anonymity, said. He is also a part of the vaccine delivery process.

Currently, clinical trials data of two vaccine candidates — Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca being manufactured in India by Serum Institute of India— are being examined by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

The three vaccine candidates whose emergency use authorisation (EUA) applications are before the national drugs regulator are: Pfizer-BioNTech, Serum Institute of India’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech-Indian Council of Medical Research.

While Pfizer had not showed up to present its case in the last meeting of the subject expert committee (SEC) on December 9, experts had sought additional data from the other two companies that had applied for EUA- Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.

Serum submitted the data on Monday, and Pfizer is also ready to present its case and has sought a fresh date from the drugs regulator. The regulator is examining the data before it allocates a date for an SEC to convene.

Bharat Biotech, however, is yet to come back to CDSCO with fresh data.

Several Covid-19 vaccine candidates around the world are currently undergoing advanced phase 3 clinical trials to establish efficacy of the vaccine candidate. The emergency use authorization is usually based on preliminary phase 3 data. For market use authorization, regulators seek full trial data.

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