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We Need A Plan To Ensure 100 Percent Coverage For The COVID-19 Vaccine, Experts Speak

While the development of vaccine is on-going, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has appealed to the Indian scientists to be mindful of affordability factor 

We Need A Plan To Ensure 100 Percent Coverage For The COVID-19 Vaccine, Experts Speak
Highlights
  • Harsh Vardhan urged scientists to ensure affordability of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Need plan to ensure a 100 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccine: Expert
  • India can ensure universal immunisation if there’s a political will: Expert

New Delhi: COVID-19 has claimed over 2.5 lakh lives across the globe. There are more than 100 projects underway to find a vaccine to help put an end to the war of humanity against the pandemic. Out of these 100 projects, six are being conducted by Indian pharmaceutical firms. Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has urged scientists to keep in mind the affordability factor of various drugs, vaccines and medical equipment amidst the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent statement from the Ministry said.

An expert from Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology, also asserts that the affordability of the COVID-19 drug is of utmost importance, since the immunisation coverage in India has always faced challenges.

Approximately, 9 million routine immunisation sessions are held in India each year, that targets 26 million children and 30 million pregnant women. The sessions are served through a massive 27,000 cold chain stores and yet immunisation coverage in India among children is about 62 per cent, as per the latest available National Family and Health Survey (NFHS 4). Even though the report states data from the year 2015-16, having worked on ground, I know these figures have improved however don’t believe they have changed drastically in the last five years. There is still a long way to go for full immunisation coverage in the country, the expert said.

Also Read: Israel Isolates Coronavirus Antibody In ‘Significant Breakthrough’ – Minister

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of the ‘obvious’ reasons why India doesn’t have universal immunisation is poor infrastructure. But stresses on two major challenges to India’s road to universal coverage:

Awareness:  A lot of people in India lack general information regarding health benefits or hazards of immunisation program.

Taboos and Myths: There are endless myths associated with vaccination in India. A lot of people believe that vaccination could lead to the early death of a person.

The medical expert says that a vaccine to fight COVID-19 is ‘absolutely the need of the hour’, she adds,

My recommendation to the government is that while we are still in the development phase of the vaccine, and it seems like we will take sometime ON that front, we need to figure out a plan to ensure a 100 percent coverage for the COVID-19 vaccine. This should be the main priority right now considering the severity of the disease.

She further says that when a COVID-19 vaccine is available, the first priority should be to vaccinate those vulnerable to coronavirus the most. This includes senior citizens, people with heart and respiratory illness as well as diabetes, among others. She adds,

Since the coronavirus vaccines are for large-scale public health use, they should first and foremost meet the quality requirements and have a significant impact against the actual disease in all target populations. And as the Health Minister suggests, the most important factor will be to price is appropriately for different markets.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Are The Four Types Of Vaccines Being Worked On To Fight Coronavirus?

Dr. Manju Mehta, a paediatrician working in the field for over 3 decades, told NDTV that India can achieve universal immunisation if there’s a political will. She asserts that ‘anything and everything is achievable with some efforts and correct information.’ Dr. Mehta, says,

Having worked on ground and with children and meeting their parents for over 30 years, I think in improving the status of immunisation in India, we need to ensure the implementation of strong health communication policies and practices at ground level. Meaning roping in the people working directly with the target group, for example Anganwadi and ASHA workers. Educated groups are well aware of the importance of a coronavirus vaccine, but it is the audience that is reached by these workers is who we need to communicate with. We need Asha Workers and Anganwadi workers to gear up for achieving full coronavirus immunisation as well.

She further says that now is the right time to start a plan and send them circulars on how they can start creating awareness at present. This would play a major role in implementing a successful immunisation drive, as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is ready.

Also Read: World Immunisation Week: Out of 100 Active Projects In The World To Develop COVID-19 Vaccine, There Are Six Indian Companies

Dr. Mehta says that once the above mentioned challenges are overcome, other aspects such as administrative involvement, demand and supply of the vaccine, and ultimately the finances, need to be resolved in due course. But this is a secondary conversation until we have a vaccine to discuss these aspects for, she said.

However, these challenges are solvable and should not be a hindrance to introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, she signed off.

About The Immunisation Programme In India

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Immunisation Programme titled ‘Expanded Programme of Immunisation’ in 1978 which was later renamed in 1985 to ‘Universal Immunisation Programme’ (UIP). According to UNICEF, UIP is one of largest health programmes in the world with 26 million infants and 29 million pregnant women as beneficiaries.

In India, the efforts are being made to expand the scope of Immunisation programme. The UIP includes vaccines for 12 life-threatening diseases. This includes Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Meningitis, Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B, Rotavirus diarrhoea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia and Japanese Encephalitis.

Through immunisation, India has eradicated deadly diseases like Polio and measles and is committed to eliminating Rubella.

Also Read: World Immunisation Week: Pune’s Serum Institute With Oxford University May Deliver A COVID-19 Vaccine By September

World

24,20,23,922Cases
20,36,06,535Active
3,34,95,808Recovered
49,21,579Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,20,23,922 and 49,21,579 have died; 20,36,06,535 are active cases and 3,34,95,808 have recovered as on October 21, 2021 at 4:33 am.

India

3,41,27,450 18,454Cases
1,78,831 733Active
3,34,95,808 17,561Recovered
4,52,811 160Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,27,450 confirmed cases including 4,52,811 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,78,831 and 3,34,95,808 have recovered as on October 21, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,96,645 1,825

29,333 1,075

64,27,426 2,879

1,39,886 21

Kerala

48,79,790 11,150

83,333 2,476

47,69,373 8,592

27,084 82

Karnataka

29,84,484 462

9,103 26

29,37,405 479

37,976 9

Tamil Nadu

26,90,633 1,170

14,058 268

26,40,627 1,418

35,948 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,61,810 523

5,566 88

20,41,924 608

14,320 3

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,058 11

112 6

16,87,048 17

22,898

West Bengal

15,82,813 867

7,491 63

15,56,315 795

19,007 9

Delhi

14,39,466 25

310 12

14,14,066 37

25,090

Odisha

10,36,532 559

4,387 106

10,23,849 451

8,296 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,735 34

185 3

9,91,979 36

13,571 1

Rajasthan

9,54,393 1

38 0

9,45,401 1

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,340 14

176 9

8,16,077 22

10,087 1

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,709 9

82 3

7,82,104 6

10,523

Haryana

7,71,116 15

133 7

7,60,934 8

10,049

Bihar

7,26,036 3

30 12

7,16,345 15

9,661

Telangana

6,69,556 191

3,968 28

6,61,646 162

3,942 1

Assam

6,07,427 308

3,610 25

5,97,859 282

5,958 1

Punjab

6,02,113 32

232 16

5,85,331 15

16,550 1

Jharkhand

3,48,486 25

142 14

3,43,209 11

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,773 8

176 1

3,36,199 6

7,398 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,299 78

800 3

3,26,070 80

4,429 1

Himachal Pradesh

2,21,936 110

1,394 46

2,16,815 64

3,727

Goa

1,77,706 47

597 23

1,73,755 70

3,354

Puducherry

1,27,521 42

461 29

1,25,208 71

1,852

Manipur

1,22,970 71

1,360 2

1,19,706 66

1,904 3

Mizoram

1,15,207 741

10,263 505

1,04,548 1,243

396 3

Tripura

84,351 2

95 7

83,440 9

816

Meghalaya

83,158 79

761 21

80,958 58

1,439

Chandigarh

65,312 2

24 1

64,468 3

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,043 12

138 7

54,625 19

280

Sikkim

31,800 17

175 6

31,232 22

393 1

Nagaland

31,659 18

255 8

30,728 10

676

Ladakh

20,886 3

34 0

20,644 3

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,676

2 2

10,670 2

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,646

7 1

7,510 1

129

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