18 to 19 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in pipeline: Indian health minister

2021-02-15 15:05:46 GMT2021-02-15 23:05:46(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

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NEW DELHI, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Indian federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday that presently at least 18 to 19 vaccine candidates against COVID-19 are in the pipeline and in different stages of the clinical trial.

"About 18-19 vaccine candidates against COVID-19 are in the pipeline and in various stages of research," Vardhan said during a press briefing.

Officials said the new vaccines candidates are in preclinical, clinical and advanced stages.

India has approved two COVID-19 vaccines, namely Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from Oxford University-AstraZeneca being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, for emergency use in the country.

The minister reiterated that the COVID-19 shots that are being currently given to healthcare and frontline workers were completely safe and effective.

The minister also said that by Monday morning, 8,285,295 beneficiaries had been vaccinated through 173,729 sessions across the country since the beginning of the vaccination drive.

Vardhan said the government will be in a situation to administer vaccines to those above 50 years of age in March in the next phase of vaccination drive. He said the expert group on vaccination will discuss how to pay for vaccination of those above 50 years of age.

The vaccination drive in India started on Jan. 16. At present healthcare and frontline workers are being vaccinated.

During the initial phase, around 30 million healthcare and frontline workers will be vaccinated, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 270 million.

On Monday morning the federal health ministry said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country had reached 10,916,589 and the death toll had risen to 155,732. Enditem