New Delhi: India’s coronavirus vaccination drive will begin from January 16, the government said on January 9, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting with senior officials to review the COVID situation in the country and finalise vaccine roll-out details. The Prime Minister called the news as a “landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19”.
According to the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, in the first phase, priority will be given to around one crore healthcare workers, followed by two crore frontline staff, like community health workers and police, who are directly involved in fighting the pandemic. Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had said that the vaccine will be free of cost for this group. The next group will be people over 50, followed by those under 50 but with co-morbidities. NDTV speaks with AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria to know when will the common healthy man will get the vaccine for coronavirus and how India can further contain the spread of coronavirus.
NDTV: How can the common man register for COVID vaccine?
Dr Randeep Guleria: A common healthy man will have to wait for some time to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Their chance will come only after the first group has been vaccinated, which is roughly around 30 crore people. Once all these people who come under the following groups – healthcare workers, frontline warriors, people over 50-years of age and under 50 but with co-morbidities, are vaccinated, then the common man will be notified that they can start getting themselves register on CoWIN platform for their vaccination.
The registration process will be simple; people will need to upload one photo identity card on the digital platform and register themselves with their phone number. Once they are registered, they will get a particular timeline for their vaccination with the date when they have to come and the place name where they have to go and get themselves vaccinated.
NDTV: What are the timelines we are looking at to start vaccinating a healthy individual?
Dr Randeep Guleria: The answer for timelines is difficult as that will depend mostly on the number of doses for the vaccine available with the country. If we have multiple vaccines and I am hopeful that by March we will have multiple vaccines in place – we are looking at more than two or three companies coming in to provide us the vaccine. We will possibly have Russia’s Sputnik-V and Zydus Cadila vaccine and that will help us define the timelines. Possibly, we can finish the first phase of people in four to six months of time but that will totally depend on the doses of vaccine available in the country and how do we roll it out multiple times as we have to give two doses of vaccine to people.
NDTV: Is India prepared to deal with U.K strain? Will we see a spike again in our coronavirus numbers?
Dr Randeep Guleria: This will definitely be a great challenge if the strain comes to us because of multiple factors. One is we will again have to go back and we will have to do what we were doing a few months before to stop the spread of the virus. Secondly, our resources will have to change dramatically as now we have started cutting our COVID-care resources so that non-COVID care can start. Also, it will again put a lot of strain on our healthcare workers who are already having COVID fatigue. So, we need to hope that this doesn’t happen and we have to work aggressively in our containment and surveillance system.
So far, India has held three dry-run for COVID-19 vaccine roll out. As per the health ministry, 2,360 participants have been trained during national-level training of trainers which included state immunisation officers, cold chain officers, IEC officials and development partners. Along with thee this, more than 61,000 programme managers, 2 lakh vaccinators and 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have also been trained.
The Prime Minister has apprised the three phases of dry runs that were conducted across the country. The third dry run was conducted on January 9 across 615 districts covering 4895 session sites in 33 states and UTs.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.