Dr Balram Bhargava says people should still keep their guard up, and is positive Covaxin will get WHO approval.
Updated: October 21, 2021 4:40pm
Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Dr Balram Bhargava said the decades of experience gained from the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), helped the Union Health Ministry rapidly carry out the nationwide COVID-19 vaccine inoculation drive. The UIP was launched in 1985, and now administers vaccines against 12 diseases for people across India.
On Thursday, India administered 100 crore COVID-19 vaccines, crossing a major milestone.
“Since India has over one billion people, we have contributed to protecting one-seventh of the global population,” Bhargava said while congratulating the nation and the stakeholders involved. Nevertheless, he added that there is no space for complacency. “The entire world should gain protection against COVID. No one is truly protected until everyone is protected.”
Regarding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pending approval for the Bharat Biotech Covaxin vaccine, Bhargava said he is optimistic. “WHO is following all scientific processes. All the data was submitted to them. We have more than 15 publications on Covaxin variants,” he said.
On Monday, WHO representatives said they are reviewing Covaxin’s data provided by Bharat Biotech for Emergency Use Listing, and were, “expecting one additional piece of information from the company,” the same day. The organisation’s technical advisory board will meet on October 26 to reevaluate the indigenously-made vaccine.
Covaxin is also pending approval from the Drugs Controller General of India for the vaccination of children between 2-18 years old. Bhargava said the fourth national sero-survey, conducted from June till July, found that while 67% of adults have COVID-19 antibodies, “children also have 50-55% antibodies… So they are also well protected.”
The fourth zero-survey was conducted in 70 districts and included children from 6-17 years of age. The study found the nation’s overall seroprevalence to be 67.6%.