Explained: How Centre Is Preparing To Vaccinate One In Five Indians By 2021

Explained: How Centre Is Preparing To Vaccinate One In Five Indians By 2021Dr Harsh Vardhan (Facebook/@drharshvardhanofficial)
Snapshot
  • Priority groups include health workers — both government as well as private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, ASHA workers, surveillance officers and others involved in the tracing, testing and treatment of patients.

Yesterday (4 October), the Indian government reportedly indicated that around 25 crore individuals would likely be given a double-dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July next year.

“The centre is working on plans for building capacities in human resources, training, supervision etc. on a massive scale and roughly estimates to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021,” said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

“All this is under various stages of finalisation,” he added.

As of Sunday, there were around 1 lakh deaths, 9.3 lakh active cases and so far, 65 lakh have tested positive for the virus since March.

Vardhan also said that the Union government has directed the States to prepare a list by the month end of “priority population groups” which will receive the vaccines on a priority basis.

These include the frontline health workers — both government as well as private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, ASHA workers, surveillance officers and others involved in the tracing, testing and treatment of patients.

The State governments have also been asked to submit details of cold chain facilities and related infrastructure required down to the block level.

There are three prominent vaccine candidates being tested in India. Of these, the Covishield developed by Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca has reached phase three of the trials.

Normally, vaccine development takes years but in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, governments worldwide have allowed accelerated procedures to expedite vaccine development.

Covidshield is being tested in the Serum Institute of India, Pune. It has committed to producing 200 million doses for India and other low and middle income countries if the trials are successful and the vaccine gets the regulatory nod.

The Hindu cites unconfirmed sources that at least 5 crore doses of these are likely to be available for India at about Rs 250 per vaccination.

Vardhan also said that the vaccine procurement would be done centrally and each consignment would be tracked in real time until delivery. “It will be ensured that it reaches those who needed it most,” he said.

“Even if we have multiple vaccines available, they will all be safe and will elicit the requisite immune response against novel coronavirus,” he added.

A committee under NITI Aayog member V K Paul is drawing up the entire process of vaccine procurement and distribution. The government is also monitoring immunity data with regard to COVID-19.

A vaccine rollout can stop a virus from circulating by establishing herd immunity. Herd immunity automatically takes place when a substantial number of people have been infected and recovered from the virus.

However, the natural path to herd immunity can be a nightmare for the health systems which would be overburdened with large number of cases. Also, not all the persons maybe able to get the required care.

On the other hand, with the vaccine, a substantial population develops the immunity without suffering from the full-blown infection.

For Covid-19, the percentage of population that is required to be immune for the herd immunity to kick in is estimated to range from 55 to 82.

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