Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday said Delhi has sufficient infrastructure and equipment to vaccinate its entire population in a few weeks once a COVID-19 vaccine is available.
"There is no need to worry about storage of vaccines. We have a large number of health care facilities, such as mohalla clinics, poly clinics, and hospitals etc, where a COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to people," Jain told reporters.
"Once a vaccine is available, we can vaccinate the entire population of Delhi in a few weeks," the minister said.
Jain also said Delhi should be given priority during the distribution of the vaccine as it is the national capital.
A three-storeyed building on the premises of Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital has also been identified for storage of COVID-19 vaccines.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
On Thursday, Delhi's Immunization Officer Suresh Seth had said the national capital is geared up for the COVID-19 vaccination programme and the city's entire population can be covered in a month.
"We have 600 cold storage points and around 1,800 outreach sites for the universal immunization programme for children. We have sufficient equipment for vaccines that can be stored at a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and those that need minus 15 to minus 25 degrees Celsius. The central government is further strengthening the infrastructure and providing more equipment," Seth had told PTI.
He had said the equipment and infrastructure for vaccines that need ultra-cold conditions (minus 70 degrees Celsius) are not there, but "we don't think there will be any problem logistically because the immunization programme will be carried out in a phased manner".
"If we involve hospital staff and nurses etc., we can easily vaccinate the entire population in a month," he had said, adding that at present, the Delhi government is collecting data of health care workers who are at top of the priority list of the Delhi government.
"If a vaccine is available, we can administer it to all healthcare workers in just three days... We have sufficient equipment and cold storage space, we are geared up. We won't let Delhi falter," Seth stressed.
Meanwhile, Jain said the COVID-19 positivity rate in the national capital has decreased by 45 per cent since November 7.
"The positivity rate for RT-PCR tests was 30 per cent on November 7. It has come down to 15.84 percent. The positivity rate for rapid-antigen tests has reduced to 2.61 per cent from 8.39 per cent a few days ago," Jain said.
"The overall positivity rate has reduced by 45 per cent. While the number of RT-PCR tests has been increasing fast, the positivity rate has been decreasing rapidly," the minister said.
Jain said the number of tests being conducted in Delhi was around three times the national average.
The minister also said the number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi has remained below the 7,000 mark for seven consecutive days.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.