New Delhi: The Union Government has lifted the time restriction on receiving COVID-19 vaccine jabs so as to increase the pace of immunisation, said Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan here yesterday.
People can now get vaccinated round-the-clock according to their convenience, he said in a tweet, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi values the health as well as the time of the citizens of the country.
Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told media persons that the timeline of vaccinating the beneficiaries from 9 am to 5 pm has been done away with and it is up to the hospitals to decide whether they want to continue administering the vaccines even after that.
“Co-WIN 2.0 does not provide 9 am – 5 pm vaccination sessions. It has done away with that timeline. If a hospital has the capacity, the system permits it to do vaccination even after 5 pm in consultation with the State Government. This has been briefed both to the State Governments as well as the Private and Government Hospitals,” he said.
The second dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 started being administered from Feb. 13 for those who have completed 28 days since the receipt of the first dose. The vaccination of frontline workers started on Feb. 2. The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from Mar. 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions, he said.
Bhushan said more than 1.56 crore (1,56,20,749) vaccine doses were administered in the country through 3,12,188 sessions, according to a provisional report till Wednesday 7 am. The beneficiaries include 67,42,187 healthcare workers (first dose), 27,13,144 healthcare workers (second dose), 55,70,230 frontline workers (first dose), 834 frontline workers (second dose), 71,896 beneficiaries above 45 years with co-morbidities (first dose) and 5,22,458 beneficiaries aged above 60 years.
Clinical trials for an intranasal Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by Bharat Biotech are likely to begin next week. According to an English National TV, these trails will be conducted in Patna, Chennai, Nagpur and Hyderabad. As per the Clinical Trials Registry-India (CTRI), these trials will be conducted on 175 participants. The process of recruiting participants for these trials is underway and the ethics committees of these trial sites are yet to grant approval.
It may be mentioned here that on Jan. 8, Bharat Biotech, the manufacturers of Covaxin, approached the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) and sought permission to conduct Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of the intranasal vaccine.
On Tuesday, the subject expert committee deliberated on the application and recommended granting permission for Phase 1 trials. The intranasal vaccine is different from the intramuscular vaccines that were recently approved by the Indian drug regulator for restricted emergency use in the country.
Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, had earlier said the company is focusing on intranasal vaccine as existing vaccines require two-dose intramuscular injections and a country like India needs 2.6 billion syringes and needles, which may add to pollution. An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles, syringes, etc. This is likely to significantly impact the overall cost of vaccination drive, he had said.