India needs to draw up its immunisation strategy now itself on the administration of vaccine for COVID-19 on the population when it comes out, says biotechnology industry veteran Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.
"Vaccine is anybody's guess. Right from the end of this year to the middle of next year is the prediction, the Executive Chairperson of the city-headquartered biopharmaceuticals major Biocon Ltd said on the time-frame vis-a-vis its availability.
She said some vaccine programmes have just started phase 3 clinical trials, with phase 1 and phase 2 ones having shown mixed signals.
So, we are not sure, she said and, citing reports from the US, added: It looks like every vaccine needs two doses (per person). So, its not cheap, she told PTI here in an interview.
If the government can make sure that at least 20 per cent of the most high-risk population is immunised, then we can sort of create a control on the virus.
But Ms Mazumdar-Shaw also noted 20 per cent of Indian population is a huge 200 to 300 million people.
Will the government bear it (cost), she asked. So, one has to look at pharmacoeconomics point of view and immunological rationale, and find a balance between the two.
Epidemiologists have to work out the model as to what is the minimum number of people who need to be vaccinated when the vaccine comes out. We cannot obviously vaccinate 1.3 billion people (the country's total population) in such a short time because there wont be enough vaccine, she said.
Even if the vaccine producers were going to make a billion doses, it cannot be done in one month.
"Maximum you can produce is 80 million to 100 million doses per month. So, which are the first 100 million people that will be vaccinated? Those are the kinds of planning we need to do now, she said.
If the Bharat Biotech vaccine, or Zydus Cadila vaccine starts showing good, promising results, we could also have it (vaccine) by the end of the year, Mr Mazumdar-Shaw said.
On when she expected coronavirus cases to peak in the country, she said there were various forecasts and projections, and each part of the country was at a different level.