Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s massive COVID-19 vaccination exercise via a video conference on January 16.
“Everyone was asking as to when the vaccine will be available. It is available now. I congratulate all the countrymen on this occasion,” PM Modi said in his address.
“Usually it takes many years to develop a vaccine but in such a short span of time, not one, but two 'Made in India' vaccines are ready. The work on other vaccines is also progressing at a fast pace,” PM Modi added.
PM Modi said that the unprecedented vaccination exercise will help decisively end the coronavirus pandemic. “Such a vaccination drive, at such a massive scale, was never conducted in history. There are over 100 countries having less than three crore population and India is administering vaccination to 3 crore people in first phase itself. In second phase, we have to take this number to 30 crore,” the prime minister 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.
The prime minister reiterated that those facing the highest risk from the deadly disease will be vaccinated on priority. “Our doctors, nurses, medical staff and frontline workers, among others, have a right to be vaccinated first,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi also said that those getting vaccinated should make sure that they get the second dose – that is to be taken after a gap of around one month.
— ANI (@ANI) January 16, 2021
A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and Union Territories were virtually connected during the event. Authorities had planned vaccinating around 100 beneficiaries at each session site on the inaugural day.
Priority is being given to healthcare and frontline workers, who had already been registered on the purpose-built CoWIN application. This would be sequentially followed by people with comorbidities, senior citizens and finally, the general public. The Centre is hoping to vaccinate 30 crore people by July, in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – for restricted emergency use. Beneficiaries will not be able to choose between the two jabs.
As of January 16, India had reported more than 1.05 crore confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll from the outbreak in the country stood at over 1.52 lakh. While more than 1.01 crore patients had recovered, 2.11 lakh cases remained ‘active’. Globally, more than 9.32 crore individuals have been infected by the virus and over 20 lakh people have died so far.
A speedy rollout of vaccines is being seen as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normalcy in the pandemic-battered global economy. More than 50 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have already vaccinated a large number of people from high-risk groups.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic