Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India would go by scientific advice in deciding which Covid-19 vaccine to use, emphasising that “safety is as important as speed” even as he said it was a national commitment to provide the shots to all citizens.
Asked during a virtual interaction with chief ministers as to when the vaccine would be available, Modi said this was the task of the scientific community and the regulators and not for him to comment on. He noted that participants in Tuesday’s discussions were political leaders and added some people would do politics and this was not something he could stop.
The comments were read in the context of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s demand the PM should reveal which vaccine India would use. Official sources, though, said the PM was underlining that such decisions would be taken on the basis of expert advice. His interaction with the CMs was cordial and productive, the souces added.
Modi assured states the vaccination strategy and the initial rollout would be finalised in consultation with them and said it had not been decided as to which vaccine would be available at what price. “Though two India-based vaccines are at the forefront, we’re working with global firms also,” he said, adding that adverse reactions were seen in drugs available for 20 years and more and so a decision needed to be taken on scientific basis.
“Safety is as important as speed for us. Whichever vaccine India will give to its citizens will be safe on all scientific criteria,” Modi said while reviewing the Covid-19 situation. He met chief ministers in two batches, with a separate discussion with CMs of eight worst affected states.
India is looking at the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate which has almost completed Phase 3 trials in India and has Pune-based Serum Institute as a major manufacturing partner. Oxford University said on Monday that the vaccine candidate prevented 70% people from the infection in a large trial and it was set to initiate talks with regulators across the world to start supplies.
There is also a locally developed vaccine candidate by Bharat Biotech and ICMR which too has shown promise during clinical trials and is currently undergoing phase 3 human trials.