Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reviewed India's preparations for vaccinating its vast population against COVID-19 once a vaccine is available and asserted that vaccination must be affordable and universal. Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review planning and preparations for vaccination against the novel coronavirus.
At the meeting, the current status of vaccine development efforts were also reviewed and the prime minister highlighted India's commitment to play an enabling role in the vaccination efforts against COVID-19, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.
Prime Minister Modi noted that vaccination of India's vast and diverse population will need to factor in issues, including those related to management of medical supply chains, prioritisation of at-risk populations, coordination between different agencies involved in the process, as well as the role of private sector and civil society, it said.
The prime minister enunciated four guiding principles that will form the foundation of this national effort, the PMO 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.
He stated that vulnerable groups should be identified and prioritised for early vaccination, for example doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, non-medical frontline COVID-19 warriors, and vulnerable people among the general population.
Another guiding principle enunciated by the prime minister was vaccination of “anyone, anywhere” should take place without imposition of any domicile related restrictions for getting the vaccine.
The third principle enunciated by the prime minister was that vaccination must be affordable and universal and no person should be left behind, according to the PMO.
According to the fourth principle, the entire process from production to vaccination should be monitored and supported in real time with the use of technology.
Prime Minister Modi directed officials to evaluate in a broad manner available technology options that can form the backbone of the national endeavour to vaccinate all in the most efficient and timely manner.The prime minister directed that detailed planning for such large scale vaccination should be undertaken immediately.