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Steel companies engage with vaccine makers for bulk supply of doses for employees

The first COVID-19 vaccine shots in India were given on Saturday to nearly two lakh frontline healthcare and sanitary workers as Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world's largest inoculation drive against the pandemic that has caused 1,52,093 deaths and upended millions of lives in the country.

January 18, 2021 / 02:41 PM IST
 
 
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 Leading steel-producing companies in the country are drawing up plans to vaccinate their employees across offices and plant sites with the start of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Domestic steelmakers like -- Tata Steel, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AMNS India) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) said they will continue to support the government in the nationwide drive and will wait till vaccines are available for corporates.

Meanwhile, players like JSW Steel and Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) are already in talks with Indian vaccine makers to place orders according to their requirements.

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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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JSPL Chief Human Resource Officer said, "we are reaching out to vaccine manufacturers for bulk supply of doses and will try to get these doses after completion of all frontline COVID warriors' vaccination."

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The company has already categorised employees in order of vulnerability, so the ones above the age of 50 years and those who were infected from COVID-19 can be vaccinated first.

JSPL will seek the guidance of the government and will try to get all its employees vaccinated, he said adding the company has been conducting RT-PCR test, a test which detects COVID-19 virus, of all employees twice a month since September 2020.

Meanwhile, JSW Group which employs 55,000 people, directly and indirectly, has plans to vaccinate its staff working at its corporate offices, plants and townships in the next financial year.

The group is in talks to buy 2 lakh doses initially from one of the Indian vaccine makers and inject double shots once authorities allow private corporate vaccination programme.

The first COVID-19 vaccine shots in India were given on Saturday to nearly two lakh frontline healthcare and sanitary workers as Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world's largest inoculation drive against the pandemic that has caused 1,52,093 deaths and upended millions of lives in the country.

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech are the two vaccines being given to frontline workers including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, ambulance drivers and other medical staff besides sanitation workers, police etc.

State-owned RINL and Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) have sent details of its employees to the administration and who will be vaccinated based on priority.

Both SAIL and RINL also run hospitals at their plant sites.

A Tata Steel spokesperson said the company has been working very closely with the government and respective state governments of Jharkhand and Odisha from the start of the pandemic and serving the community with medical facilities at various locations of its operations.

Tata Main Hospital (TMH) at Jamshedpur, in Jharkhand, has been the largest COVID care facility in the state with over 1,000 beds dedicated for the purpose. As on date, TMH is the designated hospital for conducting COVID vaccine trials.

In line with the priority decided by the government, the vaccination is being started with 3,000 health workers at TMH from January 16 onwards.

"We will continue to work with the government and as and when further vaccines are made available, we would vaccinate our employees as per the guidelines. As always, Tata Steel stands committed to the safety and security of its employees across locations of its operations," the spokesperson said.

AMNS India CEO Dilip Oommen said, "AMNS India has always given the highest priority to the health and safety of its employees. Whenever the vaccines are available to the corporates, we shall certainly take them on priority and provide it free of cost to all the employees."

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.

PTI
first published: Jan 18, 2021 02:41 pm

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