From the evening of April 28, those above 18 years of age will be able to register to be vaccinated against coronavirus from May 1 as the government expands the nationwide vaccination drive but several states are unsure as the availability of jabs is uncertain.
Many states are facing issues of logistics and vaccine procurement, The Times of India has reported. The government of Maharashtra, the worst-affected state from COVID-19, said it needs 12 crore vaccine vials to inoculate the population of 5.71 crore in the age group of 18 to 44.
In a letter to Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, the state has asked about the procurement price and the availability of vaccines before starting the next phase, and is awaiting their reply, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on April 27.
Neighbouring state Goa may also not be able to start vaccinating people in the age bracket of 18-45 years from May 1 as it is yet to get vaccine stock, the report said.
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.
In West Bengal, the government has decided to procure vaccine doses on behalf of private hospitals to ensure that the vaccination drive carries without any abrupt halt. However, the logistics issues of orders being placed and deliveries taking place in the few days that remain this month, there is no surety if the drive at private COVID vaccination centres (CVCs) would begin from May 1, the report said.
There is no clarity from the state government in Karnataka about the expanded vaccination from May 1 and no procurement process has started, multiple hospitals told the publication.
In Jharkhand, there are concerns over the timely supply of vaccine vials. The state government has placed an order for vaccines but there is no clarity on arrival, the report cited Jharkhand health secretary Arun Kumar Singh as saying.
“If you ask whether we will start the drive (third phase) from May 1, I do not know,” he said.Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.