Authorities are gearing up to vaccinate at least 25-30 crore Indians, including about three crore healthcare and frontline workers, against COVID-19 by July 2021, the Hindustan Times reported. For this, they are looking to procure 50-60 crore doses of potential vaccines.
The vaccination exercise is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021 when vaccines are made available for use in high numbers.
The Centre’s national vaccine committee on COVID-19 has prioritised different categories for inoculation. Healthcare and frontline workers, citizens above the age of 65, then those between 50-65 years of age, followed by those below 50 years of age with chronic diseases are to be given vaccines sequentially on priority, the report suggests.
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.
The Union Health Ministry has reportedly asked states to set up committees to monitor and coordinate the exercise at the ground level to ensure there is minimum disruption to other routine healthcare services. This includes forming committees at district levels.
During his virtual meeting with state representatives on November 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the distribution strategy for COVID-19 vaccines will be chalked out in 'collective coordination' with the states.
PM Modi had said that the development of potential vaccines was being monitored closely and that the Centre was in touch with global regulators, companies and other governments.
COVID-19 Vaccine Watch: What you need to know about manufacturing and pricing
The prime minister had said it is unclear whether there will be one, two or three doses of a vaccine given to the masses, but urged states to focus on adding more cold storage facilities. The pricing of the vaccine has also not been decided yet, he said.
As of November 25, India’s COVID-19 tally stood at 92.2 lakh. Of these, 86.4 lakh patients had recovered. While there were 4.4 lakh ‘active’ cases, the country’s death toll from the outbreak had risen to 1.3 lakh.
While India has reported less than 50,000 daily COVID-19 cases for some time now, some states are showing resurgence in the number of infections. Rapid and effect inoculation is being seen as the only way to end the pandemic.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic