Updated 17 December 2020
The capital city of India has already reported 6,11,994 cases and hundreds more are being reported every day. With the fatality count spiralling above 13,000, Delhi unfortunately remains one of the worst-hit cities in the country.
Many are understandably hoping that the deployment of the vaccine would spell the beginning of the end of the pandemic. So, when will Delhiites get their chance to be vaccinated? What’s the latest development in the capital city?
Updates on COVID vaccination in Delhi
The Delhi government is gearing up to carry out the mass vaccination program.
Along with the Centre, it has identified 609 cold chain points, approximately 60 in each district. The cold storage facilities are going to play a crucial part in the immunisation program as vaccines like Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca) and mRNA COVID-19 (Pfizer) have stringent temperature requirements to maintain their quality.
The state-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital is building a 5,000 square metres-wide cold storage facility to accommodate the vaccines. Additionally, they may also be stored at the existing cold storage facility at Civil Lines.
To assist with the inoculation program, the government has enlisted about 3,500 healthcare workers and medical officers from the private and public sectors, hospitals under the railways, cantonment, etc. Officials say that each facility will have two facilitators and inoculators to smoothen the process.
What vaccines are available now?
Most of the front-runners in India are slated to start the COVID vaccination drive in the coming weeks. At present, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Serum Institute-Oxford’s Covishield and the Pfizer India vaccines have recently applied to get approved by DCGI for emergency use in India.
Pfizer was the first candidate in India to apply for DCGI’s (Drug Controller General of India) approval for emergency use of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate, possibly kickstarting the vaccine drive in India by January 2021.
As Pfizer is relying on data mostly from its promising phase 3 clinical trials from outside the country, it may require a further trial on the Indian population before it starts its multi-phase vaccination in the country. The vaccine is priced at USD 37, around INR 2,700.
Overall efficacy: 95% 28 days after the first dose
Oxford-AstraZeneca or Covidshield
The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine candidate, also going by the moniker of Covidshield in India, would likely also be authorized for emergency use in the country by the end of the year. Phase 2/3 trials of the vaccine are underway in a joint effort by the Serum Institute of India and the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is closely reviewing all the data from the vaccine’s application in its third phase of trials.
Overall efficacy: around 70%
Russia’s Sputnik V has also commenced a combined phase two-three trial in India. This has been under the initiative of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) which went into a distribution partnership with the firm in September.
As per the second interim trial data analysis, the vaccine has an efficiency of 91.4% that goes to a maximum of 95% around the 42nd day after the application of the first jab. RDIF and pharma firm Hetero aim to produce a target of 100 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine annually.
In addition to these three COVID-19 vaccines, there are as many as 20 vaccines in different phases of development in the country. Some that are in the running:
Developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), COVAXIN is India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine candidate to undergo phase 3 trials. This inactivated coronavirus vaccine has been injected in around 28,500 volunteer candidates in over 25 centers across India. Data from the previous trials show that it is safe and promisingly efficient.
To analyze the safety and immunogenicity of its vaccine candidate, Hyderabad-based Biological E has begun with phase 1/2 trials, the results of which are set to arrive by February of next year.
HGCO19, an mRNA vaccine candidate, is being developed by the Pune-based firm Gennova in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, Seattle, US. The vaccine has now received the green signal from DCGI to conduct phase 3 trials after passing the assessment of the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and might hit the market by March 2021.
Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D
Having completed phase two trials, Ahmedabad-based pharma major Cadila Healthcare (Zydus Cadila) now eyes approval to conduct the next phase of trial for its vaccine candidate ZyCoV-D. It is a DNA plasmid vaccine, the first of its kind in India. The shot can remain stable at room temperature for nearly three months, a boon to vaccine distribution in India without using cold chains.
Mynvax’s co-founders stated that it can be stored at 37 degrees Celsius, as opposed to most others which require a much lower temperature. The latest update from this IISc Bangalore incubated Mynvax vaccine states its readiness, to begin with the safety tests and human clinical trials.
When can Delhi residents be vaccinated?
According to Delhi’s Health Minister, Satyendra Jain, once the vaccine is available, the shots will be administered to all Delhiites within 3-4 weeks.
Healthcare workers and frontline staff will be given first priority considering the risk involved. 1.8 lakh to 2.25 lakh healthcare workers will be vaccinated in the first phase and next in line, the elderly will get vaccinated before the rest of the demographic can receive their doses.
How much will the vaccination cost?
The cost of the COVID vaccine in India is a much-speculated topic. Although the central government is contemplating ways to distribute the shots free of cost, it will be no small feat considering the population of the country.
It is expected that the prices of the vaccines will range between Rs 450 to Rs 5,500 for a double dose.
- Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine : Rs 1,440
- Russia’s Sputnik V : Rs 735
- Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield : Rs 220
- Bharat Biotech-Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D : Rs 200-450
Where to get vaccinated in Delhi?
Once the vaccination program commences, the vaccine will be available at various centres across the city. The government plans to engage several mohalla clinics, urban public health centres, district hospitals, maternity homes, and most tertiary-care hospitals to ensure speedy and efficient implementation of the vaccination strategy.
Vaccination will also be carried out at cold storage points such as Lok Nayak, Kasturba Gandhi, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, AIIMS, RML, and Safdarjung hospitals.