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Can you choose which COVID-19 vaccine to take? Yes, if 18-44, says CO-WIN chairperson
In May, India plans to start administering the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine
As India adds more to more people to its expanding vaccine net against COVID-19, those aged 18-44—an estimated 600 million people—will have access to something that over 150 million recipients before them did not: A choice between vaccines.
R.S. Sharma, Chairperson of the empowered committee on COVID-19 vaccinations, has told CNN-News18 that people aged 18-44 can choose their preferred vaccines at private centres.
From May 1, this demographic will be eligible for vaccines, even as multiple states report vaccine shortages for the frontline workers, elderly and 45+ demographics that have surged to vaccine centres looking for a dose. Many are still waiting for their second shot, leaving some states doubtful of what they can achieve when the third phase of vaccinations opens on May 1.
“The government centres will continue to vaccinate [beneficiaries with] whatever vaccines they are getting. And obviously if they are giving the second dose, they will also have to ensure that the second dose is of the same vaccine as the first dose…Private centres will declare as to which vaccines they are [using for] vaccinating, and what the prices of those vaccines are,” said Sharma.
So far, only two vaccines have been made available for the Indian public: The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine made by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The majority of doses administered have been that of Covishield.
In May, India plans to start administering the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, which received emergency use authorisation on April 12. India is the 60th country to approve this vaccine, backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and manufactured by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in India.
Registration on the CoWIN app or website is mandatory for vaccination for persons aged 18-45 years.
Can't leave it to private vaccine manufacturers to decide quota of each State: SC to Centre
The Supreme Court Friday said the Centre should adopt a national immunisation model for vaccination of all and not leave it to private vaccine manufacturers to decide on its allocation to states.
A bench headed by Justices D.Y. Chandrachud said, "What happens to the marginalised people and SC/ST population living in far flung areas? Should they be left to the mercy of private vaccine manufacturers and hospitals? They will not be able to pay for the vaccines, it said.
The bench, also comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Rabindra Bhat, said that the government must think of providing free of cost vaccination to all citizens.
“You should adopt a national immunization model to vaccinate people of all classes. Poor or marginalised sections will not go to the hospital and pay Rs 600 for vaccines. You should consider all these aspects,” the bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre.
It said that it cannot be left to the private manufacturers to decide how much quantity be given to which state and instead Centre should procure all the vaccines and give it to the states like done in national immunization programmes.
The top court asked the Centre to respond to certain questions like how will it ensure the registration of persons for vaccination, who are illiterate or don't have access to the internet considering registration on CoWIN app is mandatory for vaccination for persons aged 18-45 years.
It asked Mehta whether the Centre or States attempt to undertake targeted vaccination drives for crematorium workers and other coordinate groups who are providing on-ground assistance during the pandemic and weren't considered as frontline workers.
The bench asked Mehta to respond to the question whether the central government has considered exercising its power under section 92 of Patents Act, 1970, which enables compulsory licensing of patents in a public health emergency?
Has the Finance Ministry made any previous grants/ sanctions to Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII) in the past, like the current infusion of Rs 1,500 crore and 3,000 crore respectively? If yes, what is the exact breakup, as against the total cost of development and production of the two vaccines, the bench said.
It also sought to know the direct and indirect grant/aid that was provided for the research, development and manufacture of vaccines.
The top court posted the matter for further hearing on May 10 and asked the Solicitor General to reply to the questions it has posed