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Government expanded COVID-19 vaccination drive without considering stock, WHO guidelines: SII executive director

Speaking at an e-summit, Jadhav said the country should have followed the WHO guidelines and prioritised vaccination accordingly.

May 22, 2021 / 12:58 PM IST
We must take into account the availability of the product and then use it judiciously, SII's Suresh Jadhav said. (Representative image)

We must take into account the availability of the product and then use it judiciously, SII's Suresh Jadhav said. (Representative image)

Amid an acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, executive director of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) Suresh Jadhav on May 21 alleged that the government began inoculating people from multiple age groups without taking into account the available stock of vaccines and the WHO guidelines.

Speaking at an e-summit organised by Heal Health, a health advocacy and awareness platform, Jadhav said the country should have followed the WHO guidelines and prioritised vaccination accordingly.

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Initially, 300 million people were to be administered the vaccine for which 600 million doses were required. But before we reached the target, the government opened vaccination for all above 45 years followed by those aged 18 and above despite "knowing well that so much vaccine is not available", Jadhav said.

"That is the greatest lesson we learnt. We must take into account the availability of the product and then use it judiciously," added Jadhav.

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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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Read: COVID-19 vaccine coverage in India likely to remain under 35% by 2021-end: Report by IMF's Ruchir Agarwal, Gita Gopinath

Jadhav stressed that vaccination is essential but even after getting jabbed, people are susceptible to the infection.

"Therefore, be cautious and follow COVID preventive guidelines. Although the double mutant of Indian variants are neutralised, yet variants can create problems in vaccination," he said.

"As far as the selection of vaccine is concerned, as per CDC and NIH data, whatever vaccine is available can be taken provided it is licensed by the regulatory body. And it is too early to say which vaccine is efficacious and which is not, he added.

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PTI
first published: May 22, 2021 12:58 pm

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