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Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviews preparedness for second COVID-19 vaccination dry run

India's drug regulator has granted restricted emergency use approval to Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech.

January 07, 2021 / 03:20 PM IST
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (File photo)

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (File photo)


Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on January 7 held a meeting with health ministers of all states and Union territories to review preparedness for the second round of the COVID-19 vaccination dry run.

As a simulation of the actual execution of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out that is expected to begin in a few days, the dry run will be conducted in all districts across Indian states and UTs, except Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, on January 8 to ensure efficient planning and management of the immunisation process.

Each district will identify three types of session sites, similar to the previous dry run conducted on January 2, including a public health facility (district hospital/medical college), private health facility and rural or urban outreach sites, according to the Union Health Ministry.

In the meeting, the Union minister called the first dry run successful. “Feedback on dry run of COVID-19 vaccine in four states was reviewed. We have made improvements based on the feedback. Tomorrow (January 8) dry run will be done in 33 states and UTs,” said the minister.

India's drug regulator has granted restricted emergency use approval to Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) in the country, and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech. Both the vaccines are on “the verge of being available in the country," said Harsh Vardhan.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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“Our efforts are to ensure seamless last mile delivery of the vaccine,” he said during the meeting.

"The Central government is gearing up for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. The Union Ministry of Health has been pro-actively carrying out the preparations for the same, in collaboration with states and UTs and all stakeholders, over the past couple of months to ensure that the preparations for roll-out are on track," the ministry said in a statement on January 6.

"The roll out of COVID-19 vaccine is expected to begin in the near future. This milestone entails the need for testing of all planned mechanisms for conducting the vaccination drive in the country," the ministry said.

The entire planning of the vaccination drive including beneficiary registration, microplanning, and vaccination at the planned session site will be tested under the leadership of District Collector or District Magistrate during the dry run.

The dry run will also familiarise the state, district, block and hospital level officers on all aspects of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 7, 2021 03:20 pm

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