Despite the administration for the last phase (for above 50 years old) commenced, the Union ministry has not taken a final decision to release it into the private market.

A month into the vaccination drive, which has covered more than 8.5 million so far, the health ministry has indicated that Covid-19 vaccines are not likely to be there in the open market anytime soon.

The health ministry has notified that Covid-19 vaccines are improbable to be rolled out in the open market anytime soon. The decision came as the government is not willing to take risk with technical protocols and the responsibility to launch vaccines nationwide.

“It is emergency use authorisation and during this time it is the responsibility of the government to keep things under control. That is why it cannot be brought in the open market yet ... If some wrong product comes to the market, then who would be responsible for it?” Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday.

The minister said, 18-19 vaccines were in different stages of development with a few undergoing advanced clinical trials. He added saying that the vaccines across the world are still in emergency use and it still takes time in India also to deduce to a conclusion for the right time to release in the open market.

With India soon to begin vaccination in March for those above 50, the pharma companies are in the process of finalising the details for this phase, including whether it would be free of charge or have a specific price.

The central government granted emergency use approval to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, in early January. India’s vaccination drive for healthcare workers began on 22 January.