As India gears up to vaccinate over a billion people against the coronavirus, experts dealing with vaccine-related decisions in government are considering making the vaccine available at drugstores for private use, for those who can afford to buy it.
Prices for these privately available vaccines are likely to be subsidised but are subject to regulatory approval from the drug control authorities to a vaccine candidate, an expert working on vaccine-related decision with the government told Hindustan Times.
The government is preparing to begin inoculation for the vulnerable population early next year, once a candidate is finalised. It is currently drafting beneficiaries which include about 30 million health and frontline workers.
“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,” a senior official in the government told the publication.
Currently, three candidates -- Pfizer-BioNTech, Serum Institute of India’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech-Indian Council of Medical Research -- have submitted their bids to the national drugs regulator for emergency use authorisation or the EUA.
AIIMS Director, Dr Randeep Guleria, said in an interview that the regulatory approval might come later in the year or by early 2021.
This comes as a relief to the country which continues to be the worst-hit in the world after the United States with over one crore cases and death toll due to the virus nearing 1.47 lakh.