New Delhi: India reported less than 10,000 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24-hours as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, this is for the third time in this month, when India’s daily new COVID-19 cases saw a decrease. The country’s overall fatality rate also saw a major decline, for the sixth time in the month, as per the Union Health Ministry, India reported less than 100 daily deaths due to COVID-19.
Im terms of vaccinations, India has reached the first 7 million (75 lakh) vaccinations in record time of 28 days. According to the government, India is fastest to reach the 7 million mark for vaccination in the world. The central government has already started vaccinating booster shot to the beneficiaries. But if we talk about vaccine per 100 of the population, India is behind other countries. Currently, it is the UAE that is vaccinating 1.62 per 100 people, followed by Israel, Chile, UK and USA. India is at 23 on this list with 0.03 vaccinated per 100 population as per the data by Our World In Data.
Last week, the Centre had issued a series of deadlines for vaccination of health workers and frontline workers in view of the tardy progress of some states. As per the deadlines, at least the first dose of the vaccine has to be given by February 20, the mop-up rounds will have to be finished by February 24. For Frontline workers, the dates are March 1 and March 6. The third phase of vaccination — for people above the age group of 50 and those with co-morbidities like diabetes or hypertension — is expected to begin in March.
NDTV speaks with experts to know what can be done to speed up vaccination in the country?
Talking about the obstacles and why India is not being able to vaccinate more and more people, Dr KR Balakrishnan, Chairman, Cardiac Sciences, MGM Healthcare said,
“One is there are some kind of reluctance on the part of people regarding the safety of these vaccines. People are afraid about the adverse events and they don’t want to be the first one to face these. A lot of doctors and physicians have taken the vaccination and are leading positive example for others, I see, in coming weeks, the vaccination acceptance will go up and more and more people will come forward to get their COVID-19 jab.
Talking about vaccine hesitancy and the road ahead for India’s next phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive, Dr Rajiv Gupta, Director, Internal Medicines, Max Healthcare added,
I think once India finishes vaccinating its frontline workers fully and they see that there are not much of adverse events, we will be able to increase the vaccination numbers. One thing, we all should know that all vaccines come with some or the other form of adverse events, however, we should be very happy, that till now, India has not seen any major red flags or issues with the vaccines.
Highlighting the need to increase vaccine centres in the country in bid to reach more and more people in the coming few months, Dr KR Balakrishnan said,
We need to understand that we have 1.3 billion people to vaccinate in India. Logistically speaking, it is really a tremendous effort and I think, we need to congratulate to all the people who are involved in this effort. So far, whatever number we have achieved, is big and it is not easy. But I am sure with more coordinated efforts we will be able to increase our numbers.
Taking the frequently asked question that one can still get infected with the disease after their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Rajiv Gupta said,
After one takes the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, there are not much of antibodies in the system that it can protect them from the disease, so one can easily become infected. Once you get infected after taking the vaccine, it is not because of the vaccine you have got the disease but because of the virus in the environment or people around you. But, in coming few months, problem of infection like this will also decrease once we start vaccinating the community or people in large number as then most of the people will be safe from the virus. We need to understand that vaccination is a must and they are absolutely safe. Each one of us should get their jab when they are asked to.
On the other hand, Dr KR Balakrishnan stressed on the point that though India’s coronavirus cases are falling, there is still a need for people to get vaccinated and follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. He added,
People should not think that the worst is over for the country as the cases are falling down. We should be prepared for the worse and be very very vigilant in our actions. Each one of us should get vaccinated no matter what so that the curse of this virus is gone for once and for all.
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.