New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: With India gearing up to launch world's largest immunisation drive against the novel coronavirus, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that COVID-19 vaccine will be free across the country and "not just in Delhi". The statement from Vardhan comes after Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain said that "medicines and treatment are being provided for free" in the national capital.

"In 1st phase of COVID-19 vaccination, free vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that incl 1 crore healthcare and 2 crore frontline workers," Vardhan said in a tweet later.

The Union Health Minister also inspected a dry run drill at a Delhi hospital and reiterated that "safety and efficacy" of a vaccine is government's top priority, urging people to not pay heed to the rumours.

"I appeal to people not to pay heed to rumours. Ensuring the safety and efficacy of the vaccine is our priority. Different kinds of rumours were spread during polio immunisation but people took the vaccine and India is now polio-free," news agency ANI quoted Vardhan as saying.

Meanwhile, India on Saturday conducted a mega-drill in all states and union territories (UTs) across 259 sites to equip the administration in the management of vaccine supply, storage and logistics, including cold chain management.

Through this nationwide activity, the government wants to "assess operational feasibility in the use of Co-Win application in the field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation".

What is the status of coronavirus vaccines in India?

Currently, there are six COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, in different clinical trial stages in India. Out of the six candidates, three are in the pre-clinical stage.

Covaxin:

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is one of the three vaccine candidates in India that has applied for emergency use authorisation. Currently, phase 3 clinical trails of Covaxin is being conducted across the country.

Covishield:

Covishield, which is being manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with Oxford and AstraZeneca, is one of the leading vaccine candidates in India. SII has currently applied for its emergency use authorisation and media reports suggest that will likely get a nod from the Centre.

ZyCoV-D:

ZyCoV-D is being developed in India by Zydus Cadila. The vaccine, which is conducting its phase 3 trials, will likely be available in India by March 2021.

Biological E:

Biological E is being developed by Biological E limited. The vaccine is currently in phase 2 of its clinical trials.

Mynvax:

Mynvax can be stored at 37-degree Celsius and is being developed by a Bengaluru based medical pharmaceutical firm in India.

Gennova Biopharmaceuticals:

Gennova Biopharmaceuticals is developing its own COVID-19 vaccine which will likely be available in India by March 2021.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma