Johnson & Johnson is soon likely to begin clinical trials of its single-shot vaccine in India, a move that might further help India’s stockpile of vaccines.

According to an exclusive report by The Indian Express, the US pharma giant has communicated to the Indian regulator that it will soon begin testing its single-shot vaccine in the country.

The central government had earlier written to Maharashtra, Punjab and Delhi governments flagging below-par inoculation of eligible beneficiaries, including healthcare workers, after they demanded that vaccination be opened to all.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain also renewed his government’s demand that vaccination should be made open to all adults, except those who are not medically compliant.

Vardhan, however, said when states ask to open up vaccine supplies to everyone over 18, “we must presume that they have done saturation coverage of healthcare workers, frontline workers and senior citizens”.

“But the facts are altogether different,” he said.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that many inoculation centres are being shut due to the shortage of vaccines in the state, the worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the country, and they have 14 lakh doses which would last just three days.

“We need 40 lakh vaccine doses every week. We can then administer six lakh doses every day in a week. The doses we are getting are not enough,” he said, adding the Centre should ensure that those in the 20-40 age group are vaccinated on priority.

However, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan alleged that the states were trying to cover their “failures” and spread panic among the people by demanding vaccination for all without first inoculating enough of the eligible beneficiaries.

People above the age of 45 are currently eligible for vaccination.

Vardhan also said the allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless and the states, including Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, need to improve the implementation of their testing and containment strategies and vaccination drive.

He said the “lackadaisical” attitude of the Maharashtra government has “singularly bogged down” the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus.

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