The dry run of vaccination!

A dry run to check the best way to vaccinate people against COVID-19 and plug loopholes in logistics and training have started in all the states on Saturday. This day-long drive will also test the operational feasibility in the use of CoWIN application in a field environment. The dry run is being conducted in 116 districts across 259 sites. Some 96,000 vaccinators have been trained for this mega event. Of these, 2,360 participants have been trained in the National Training of Trainers and over 57,000 with district-level training in 719 districts.
The government-appointed Subject Expert Committee’s conditional recommendation of Serum Institute’s Covishield for emergency use authorisation is the ultimate moment for India. The Oxford University-AstraZeneca version of the vaccine was greenlighted on Wednesday in the UK.  Now that a vaccine is almost here, administering it is no less challenging than containing the virus. Four states have participated in a dummy exercise to assess readiness for what is being billed as India’s most ambitious mass immunisation programme. The Centre plans to cover 30 crore people in the first phase as and when the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out. The dry run is meant to provide insights into any gaps before the commencement of the actual drive. Who gets vaccinated first has been made clear in the priority list, but funding the programme and pricing are unresolved issues. SII’s version Covishield is expected to be the Indian mainstay until others like Covaxin, Novavax and Sputnik V produce adequate Phase 3 trial results. AstraZeneca’s trials were marred by the confusion over overdosing. SII claims to have stocks of 40-50 million doses of Covishield and ability to manufacture 300 million doses by July. No doubt, many logistical challenges lie ahead, which should impel the government to rope in the private sector as well. The more vaccines and skilled professionals involved, the quicker will rollout be.
In the 10 months since Covid-19 emerged in India, 10.2 million people have been infected. This is the second-largest number of infections in the world. In terms of deaths, the country has seen the third-highest number of fatalities. But these grim statistics hide the fact there are also indicators in which India fares better than many others: It ranks 98 in terms of fatalities per million population, and in infections per capita, the country is not among the top 100. Helped by its younger population, the country’s case-fatality ratio of 1.48% compares well with the global average of 2.2%. In terms of tests in relation to epidemic size, India surpasses the 10-30 tests per confirmed case benchmark set by the World Health Organization as the representative of adequate testing.

- Prabhakar Purandare

Other Editorials