How is India’s vaccination programme for Covid-19? In the wake of a lethal second wave of diseases, India extended its vaccine policy to cover all people above the age of 18.
More than 200,000 cases and 1,300 deaths are registered annually, putting the country’s healthcare system under strain.
In what is the world’s biggest inoculation drive, India has so far distributed over 127 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
India’s vaccine campaign has been lagging, despite a positive start in January. And the decision to extend it to the country’s largest demographic – those aged 18 to 45 – comes after many states declare a lack of doses.
India has reported over 15 million cases and over 180,000 deaths since the pandemic started. After the United States, it has the world’s second-highest number of Covid-19. infections.
How is the Covid-19 Vaccine rollout going?
About 109 million people have received one dose, and over 17 million people have received two doses and are completely vaccinated.
However, experts believe India will fall short of its goal of covering 250 million people by July, particularly as the number of cases continues to rise.
On January 16, India began its vaccination campaign, which was limited to healthcare professionals and frontline workers; the first Indian to receive the vaccine was a sanitation worker. The drive eventually spread to all age categories, with those above the age of 18 becoming eligible on May 1st.
Vaccination of pregnant women and infants is not currently planned.
In early April, India claimed to be “the world’s fastest country” in administering more than 100 million vaccinations. According to the health ministry, it completed the task in 85 days, compared to 89 days for the US and 102 days for China.
However, shortages have hampered the vaccination campaign in several nations, causing second doses to be postponed.
In India, two vaccines are currently being administered: one developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University (Covishield) and the other by Indian company Bharat Biotech (Covaxin). Both were given the green light in January, just in time for the vaccine’s release.
A third vaccine, Russia’s Sputnik V, was approved for use in April. Several other contestants are undergoing trials at various times.
To meet domestic demand, India temporarily halted all AstraZeneca exports. However, the vaccine’s manufacturer, Serum Institute of India (SII), recently stated that its manufacturing capability was “very strained” and that it was “very short of being able to supply to any Indian.”
The federal government has since paved the way for Bharat Biotech and SII to receive a “advance payment” of 4,500 crore rupees ($610 million; £435 million) to further improve their supply.
According to experts, India should increase vaccination in high-transmission areas and in five states where elections are taking place.
According to Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan, India needs to administer 10 million shots per day “rather than being content with three million.”
“I am disappointed that India did not accelerate its vaccine campaign when the curve was in its valley,” Dr. Mukherjee said.
How does India manage such a huge vaccine drive?
For decades, the country has run one of the world’s largest immunisation programmes, vaccinating tens of millions of people against multiple diseases, including newborns and pregnant women.
As a result, analysts thought India was well-prepared to face the challenge. However, because of vaccine scepticism as well as a lack of knowledge among the poor or in rural areas, adoption has been sluggish.
Many of the vulnerable have no knowledge of how to apply for the vaccine and get it for free. People who are eligible for vaccinations should schedule appointments online or walk into a vaccination centre to enrol.
Who is responsible for the cost of the vaccines?
Vaccination is an option. State-run clinics and hospitals have free vaccinations, while private clinics charge 250 rupees ($3.4; £2.4) each injection.
People will also get compensated vaccinations at private and government-run workplaces as of April 11th.
Around $5 billion is being spent by the government to provide free doses at state-run clinics, public health centres, and hospitals.
Have there been any "adverse events" as a result of the vaccination?
Vaccines can cause side effects in some people.
India has a 34-year-old surveillance scheme in place to monitor “adverse events” after vaccination. Failure to announce such events transparently, according to experts, could lead to vaccine fearmongering.
So far, India has registered 18,904 “adverse events” as a result of vaccination. The majority of these incidents were “minor” in nature – nausea, vertigo, giddiness, dizziness, fever, and pain – and all patients had stabilised, according to the government.
According to records, the monitoring network looked at 617 incidents of “serious adverse events,” including 180 deaths following vaccine, up until March.
It was discovered that “deaths occurred in situations where the individual had underlying mental illness.”
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