States have been requested to adopt a national approach in deciding the criteria for coronavirus vaccines, said head of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration Dr VK Paul today.
Dr Paul, a NITI Aayog member, said the states have also been asked to wait for the picture to become clear on vaccine availability.
He was responding to a question on the BJP's poll promise of free vaccine in Bihar as well as similar promises made by other states.
Dr Paul also assured that there is no dearth of resources and the central government is capable of providing vaccination to all.
The BJP's promise for free coronavirus vaccine in Bihar's election manifesto last week snowballed into a huge controversy, with opposition parties questioning how a life-saving vaccine can be used to get political mileage in elections. Soon after, two other states -- BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where the ruling AIADMK is a BJP ally -- promised free vaccine to the people as and when it comes.
Dr VK Paul said: "We have requested state governments to wait for the overall picture to become clear and to take a national approach towards engaging the companies and deciding the criteria for vaccines. The state governments have made these statements so they should be respected. But from the efforts and discussions in the committee, the approach and preparations are being fine-tuned and there is no dearth of resources."
He said India was fortunate to have a great vaccine-manufacturing setup and the committee was working towards ensuring vaccination for all.
On children being enrolled for clinical trials of vaccines, Dr Paul said: "There is a general directive for vaccines that first you establish safety in adults and then in children. In children, the disease is very mild but of course, they are spreading it so children will have to be vaccinated eventually. But current efforts are aimed at adults and especially at senior citizens, since they are more vulnerable."
The final phase 3 trials of Bharat Biotech's vaccine are set to begin in November.
Presently, three vaccine candidates -- Covaxin, ZyCoV-D and Covishield -- are in different phases of trial in India. ZyCoV-D, developed by pharmaceutical firm Zydus Cadila, is in phase two trial while Covishield, developed by the University of Oxford, is in phase 3 trial.