India’s mass vaccination drive

India has released detailed guidelines for COVID-19 mass vaccination drive that will begin soon. The central government is planning to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people during the first phase of vaccination. Pfizer, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have applied for market authorisation for their vaccines. The vaccination drive will start once India approves emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be offered first to healthcare workers, frontline workers and to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on the evolving pandemic situation, and finally to the remaining population-based on the disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.

The fact is that it may be well past 2022 before there is enough vaccine for the nearly 140 crore people of our country. Two vaccines have got the nod for emergency use and six others are inching closer. The process of inoculation entails huge and complex logistics of production, procurement, transport, storage, distribution, administration and follow-up. Given our infrastructure, the authorities have estimated that in the initial phase, only around 30 crore people categorised as top priority can be vaccinated. And, this exercise may extend till July-August. Healthcare workers, frontline staff (municipal, sanitary workers, police and defence personnel), those above 50 and those with underlying health conditions are the obvious and well-deserved picks for getting the dose first.
The COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system — a digitalised platform — will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for the vaccination and anti-coronavirus vaccines on a real-time basis. At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation. There will be no provision for on-the-spot registrations. The states have been asked to allocate the vaccine from one manufacturer to a district to avoid mixing of different COVID-19 vaccines in the field.
In a first in over five months, India’s daily Covid-19 case count fell below 23,000, as the national recovery rate stood at 95 per cent, data updated by the Health Ministry showed on Tuesday.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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