Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually kickoff India's vaccination drive on January 16. On the same day, he would also launch the CoWin (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work) app.
The application, developed by the central government, is essential to get enrolled for receiving the vaccine shots. The registration is mandatory, with at least one of the government-issued photo identity cards being required for completing the enrollment process.
Around three crore frontline workers, including one crore medics, are scheduled to be inoculated in the first phase. The immunisation programme would next focus upon the priority group, which includes those aged above 50 and persons with comorbidities.
The vaccination drive, which is expected to cover a population of around 30 crore by July, will cost Rs 1,300 crore. PM Modi, in his interaction with the chief ministers on Monday, called it one of the biggest vaccination drives in the world.
The vaccination for the non-priority group would begin after the immunisation programme has been completed for frontline workers, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities.
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.
India has so far approved two vaccine candidates - Covishield developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India and Covaxin developed by Hyderabad-headquartered Bharat Biotech. The latter, however, has drawn criticism from a section of experts due to the lack of final trials efficacy data.
The Health Ministry, in a press briefing on Tuesday, ruled out the possibility of providing a choice of vaccines to the beneficiaries."In many countries, more than one vaccine is being used. There is no such option available to any of the beneficiaries in these countries," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said.