New Delhi: According to experts, vaccination is the best defence against the COVID-19 pandemic and an important tool to stop or at least lower the impact of the third wave of the outbreak that is expected to happen in coming months. NDTV spoke with Dr NK Arora, Head, COVID-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) to learn about the status of availability of vaccines and the government’s plan for achieving the target of inoculating all adults by December 2021.
Talking about the shortfall of vaccine stock in Delhi, Dr Arora said that for the month of July, the government systems are expected to have 12 crore doses with them. He said,
The number of vaccines available for each state would be made known to them and then they can decide on the site and immunization centre. There may be some operational issues because of which the shortage is being observed but we have been promised 12 crore doses for the month of July. By June 30 we had completed the administration of about 33-34 crore of vaccine doses. By end of July, we are expected to administer 45 crore doses.
According to Dr Arora, the third wave will be driven by a variant and because of the low rate of vaccination. He added,
We expect a significant increase in the availability of vaccines in August and September. In June and July also there has been a gradual increase in the availability of vaccines. Initially, we were getting around 5-6 crore doses a month till May, now we are getting 10-12 crore and from next month onwards we will be getting 18 crore vaccines per month and from September, we should be having 30 crore plus doses.
Dr Arora highlighted that currently, the number of vaccination centres in the country at about 34,000 is not sufficient and there is a need for more such centres. The average of administering vaccines at each site per day is about 120 doses. He said,
Our capacity is to have at least 75,000 to 1 lakh immunisation centres across the country in the government sector. In addition to that about 1,500 of the private vaccination centres.
Dr Arora further emphasised the importance of vaccination centres and said that immunization centres are set up according to the availability of vaccines and the whole effort is that the human resource is not wasted at these centres. He added,
Now a strategic and smart approach is being taken that whatever available vaccines are there, a similar number of vaccine centres should be there so that the vaccines can be fully saturated.
Explaining how the country would be able to achieve the target of vaccinating all adults by December, Dr Arora said, the calculations show that it is possible. He said,
Let’s say the country is able to administer 45 crore doses by the end of July, we have another 135 crore for the rest of the five months. This means that as of now, we need to administer about 180 crore more jabs. The target is to inoculate the adult population of about 92 crore. This means that we should be able to cover all adults by December. Also, the way our system is geared which shows that each centre can administer about 120-125 doses. So, if we have 1 lakh centres, over 1 crore doses can be administered. Today the production of Covaxin is about 5 crore doses a month which will be ramped up to 1.2 billion by September.
Dr Arora further said that in order to ramp up vaccination, the suppliers of Covishield and Covaxin, the vaccines being used under the Covid vaccination drive, are working towards increasing production. He said that Bharat Biotech has started two new plants to increase the production of Covaxin.
Over 216 crore doses of vaccines will be manufactured in India between August-December 2021 – for India & for Indians.
— PIB India (@PIB_India) May 13, 2021
Further, he said that in just about two weeks, Zydus Cadila’s Covid Vaccine may get regulatory approval. The company has already submitted the application and the required data to the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI). Biological E is expected to submit the data soon, they are still performing the phase three trials, he said adding that by September-October the vaccine will be available. On the status of availability of Sputnik Lite vaccine in India, Dr Arora said,
The manufacturers are yet to share the data with us. As soon as they do, we will be able to see what able to move forward.
Vaccine For Children: Where Does India Stand?
On the status of vaccine development for children, Dr Arora said that Covaxin Phase III trials have started and by the end of September there will be some result. He said that by January next year, the country will be ready to vaccinate children in the age group 12-18 years with Covaxin. He also said that prior to Covaxin, Zydus Cadila’s COVID vaccine might get approved by September and children may start getting inoculated then.
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.
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