Why in News: –
As of April 10, India has delivered more than 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the fastest country to reach the mark.
Syllabus: – GS2: Issues related to Health Sector.
- Over the last year, an unprecedented collaboration between all stakeholders of the society has helped in minimizing death & sickness from the virus.
- Currently, India is better equipped in treating very sick patients as well as accessible, quality antivirals & effective vaccines to deploy against the COVID pandemic.
India & the Vaccination Drive:
- India began the “World’s Largest Vaccination Program” with domestically manufactured COVID vaccines in Jan 2021.
- It is India’s first-ever adult vaccination drive.
- India has adopted a phased vaccination approach
- Starting with high-risk populations
- Next 60 plus population
- Now everyone above 45 years is eligible.
- The government has launched the CoWIN application for registration of beneficiaries & for planning, implementing & monitoring the vaccination drive.
- India became the fastest country in delivering 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses within 3 months of the drive.
- But India needs more people to vaccinate & this can be possible only with a scientifically directed approach while maintaining the process safety, quality & integrity.
Scale Up Strategy Vaccine Supply:
- India a global hub for vaccine manufacturing & the leading vaccine supplier to the world.
- The present indigenous manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines are around 70-80 million doses a month
- Which became crucial as the present production creates shortage for domestic & export purpose where many countries depended on India.
- But ramping up production is a complex process that requires financial resources, specialized skilled human resources & most crucial, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for biological & pharmaceutical products to be followed by all manufacturers.
- Scaling up of production capacity must be in tandem with the ability of manufacturers to ensure adherence to GMP.
- Deployment of Sufficient Trained Vaccinators:
- From the learning’s of the 3-month drive, it is evident that the Universal Immunization Programme’s workforce hadn’t sufficient to carry out the Covid-19 vaccination program.
- To ensure safe & efficient vaccine administration, all health workers involved need to have adequate skills & knowledge.
- Training must be robust & complete & cover a wide range of aspects from storage to waste management of COVID-19 vaccines.
- There needs to be an active collaboration with doctors, nurses & technicians from the private arena to meet vaccination needs.
- Training health workers is critical in addressing vaccine hesitancy & building public trust.
- Training itself is a mammoth task that requires all stakeholders & aspects of adequate support & engagement to ensure an adequate skilled & trained workforce to deliver Covid-19 vaccination.
- The need is to have vaccination centres that are accessible & acceptable to people & mainly to have adequate space for mandatory vaccination effects monitoring.
- In phase-1, Govt used the entire Universal Immunization Programme infrastructure for Covid-19 vaccination, now private facilities are also administering the vaccine.
- To make the next phases of vaccination successful an extraordinary level of coordination & preparedness at each center is needed.
- Vaccine equity will become critical in creating a difference in vaccination drive.
- The need of the hour is to prioritize vaccinating vulnerable populations but the rapid resurgence of cases requires considering an opportunity to vaccinate the asymptomatic spreaders.
- Similarly, strengthening partnerships with the private sector for rapid scale-up needs to be balanced with the affordability issue for keeping equitable access to the vaccine for the marginalized & vulnerable groups.
- India needs to follow a “cafeteria approach”, whereby bringing more affordable, global vaccine alternatives to markets has to be balanced with stimulating indigenous production.
- There is a need to prevent demands for market-driven exports & market-driven prices of foreign vaccines that are not available in the public immunization program.
- It is to stop skepticism about the quality of vaccines administered by the government.
Challenges in Vaccination drive:
- Increasing cases of vaccine hesitancy in the country, from common citizens & frontline workers as well, obstructing the smooth implementation of the vaccination drive.
- Growing fake news &skepticism about the vaccine’s efficacy & side effects have been a major challenge to administer the vaccine in rural areas.
- Issues with Co-WIN app such as internet connectivity causing problems while tracking vaccine stocks & updating beneficiaries’ information.
- COVID-19 vaccination drive is India’s first-ever large-scale vaccination drive which gives a lack of experience in not repeating any mistakes.
- As data from various shows that, there has been an increase in vaccine wastages in the country due to a lack of proper awareness among healthcare workers.
- India needs a more trained & skilled healthcare workforce to scale up the vaccination drive.
- Engagement with community-based organizations & NGOs for spreading awareness & educating people about vaccines will bring down the vaccine hesitancy in the country.
- Proper training of the healthcare workforce about vaccine utilization will prevent vaccine wastages.
- India needs to overcome the vaccine shortage by ramping up vaccine production & continuing the flow of vaccines to the centers.
- The administrating vaccine alone won’t help tackle the COVID crisis, all stakeholders are required to maintain COVID-appropriate behavior.
- The government simultaneously should continue tracing out new variants of virus & also look for any vaccine-resistant virus.
Explain the India’s efforts to cut off the chain of transmission is to focus on relentless adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour& continued emphasis on testing & tracking, alongside Vaccination.