India tests vaccine delivery system with nationwide trial | World

NEW DELHI (AP) — India tested its COVID-19 vaccine delivery system with a nationwide trial on Saturday as it prepares to roll out an inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

The trial included data entry into an online platform for monitoring vaccine delivery, along with testing of cold storage and transportation arrangements for the vaccine, the health ministry said in a statement.

The massive exercise came a day after a government-appointed panel of experts held a meeting to review the applications of potential vaccine candidates, including front-runner Covishield, developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca.

India’s vaccination drive is expected to start in a few days once the country’s regulator approves a vaccine.

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The government plans to inoculate 300 million people in the first phase of the vaccination program, which will include healthcare and front-line workers, police and military troops, and those with comorbidities who are above the age of 50.

The government is expected to initially lean on the vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing company. The company has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make 1 billion doses for developing nations, including India. It has applied to India’s drug regulator for early approval for emergency use in the country. Applications for vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and Indian manufacturer Bharat Biotech are also being reviewed.