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India has hit the 100-crore vaccination mark

India reaches 100 crore vaccinations: It took India nine months to administer 100 crore jabs, with 74 percent of the adult population getting the first dose. More than 31 percent are fully vaccinated

October 21, 2021 / 11:36 AM IST

India crossed the 100-crore vaccine dose mark on October 21, a milestone in its fight against coronavirus, overcoming logistic challenges and hesitancy as healthcare workers climbed mountains, crossed rivers and walked deserts to jab adult Indians against the dreaded virus.

It took India nine months to administer 100 crore jabs, with 74 percent of the adult population getting the first dose. More than 31 percent are fully vaccinated

One billion doses is an achievement for the country that was brought to its knees by a devastating second wave in April-May that saw infections and daily deaths zoom to record highs.

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The rough road

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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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The drive, launched in mid-January, too, wobbled midway as India, which was sending out vaccines to other countries, ran short of supplies but it managed to ramp up production to accelerate the pace of vaccination to beat back the virus that has been mutating after it was first reported in China in late 2019.

Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar said on October 20 that the government had set a target of vaccinating the country's entire adult population by the end of the year.

While virtually addressing the FICCI's Healthcare Excellence Awards ceremony, Pawar said that under the 'Make in India' initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India was one of the leading countries in the global medical devices market in the world.

Detailing the success amid challenges posed by COVID-19, the Union minister said, "More than 99 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country and the government has set a target of vaccinating the country's entire adult population by end of the year."

Milestone achievement

Congratulating the milestone, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "India scripts history. We are witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of 130 crore Indians. Congrats India on crossing 100 crore vaccinations. Gratitude to our doctors, nurses and all those who worked to achieve this feat." (sic)

Further, to mark the 100-crore COVID-19 vaccine doses, the largest khadi tricolour in the country, weighing around 1,400 kg, will be displayed at the Red Fort on October 21, official sources said.

The same 225 feet by 150 feet handwoven tricolour, the largest in the country, was unfurled on October 2 in Leh to mark Mahatma Gandhi's 152nd birth anniversary and the 75th year of Independence.

"Congratulations to the people and healthcare workers of India. It's remarkable to reach the 1-billion dose mark for any nation, an achievement in just over nine months since the vaccination program started in India," said Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said the vaccination drive was based on six principles--to include everyone above 18 years and give free vaccination at government health centres, the government providing financial and technological support to indigenous vaccines, pursuing a layered approach of prioritising certain populations, developing a digital interface to coordinate work, sharing learnings and resources with the global community, and by consulting and collaborating with stakeholders.

To reach remote areas like the Karang Island in Loktak lake in Manipur, the government arranged for drones. Senior government scientist Dr Samiran Panda told BBC that in states such as Manipur and Nagaland ferries were being used to reach distant corners.

Difficult early days

At the peak of the second wave, the Indian government had faced criticism for delaying the procurement of vaccines.

In April, former prime minister Manmohan Singh sent a five-point letter to Modi, asking the government to finance and support the private sector, to ramp up production, to widen the eligible categories and allow vaccines cleared by credible international agencies such as European Medical Agency or the USFDA to be imported without domestic bridge trials.

From May 1, the government opened vaccination for those above 18. In June, the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) announced that vaccines from certain countries and those under WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) would not need bridging trials.

As anticipation built up, Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker delivered a sombre note. It said there was a “yawning gap” between those who received the first dose and those who got both the doses.

“While it is likely to hit the billion-doses mark this week, the country has only given two shots to nearly 21 percent of its population of about 1.4 billion,” said a Bloomberg report.

According to experts, at least 60 percent of the population will need to receive both doses to stop the third wave.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Oct 21, 2021 09:52 am

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