The most frightening second wave of Covid-19 has already hit hard the world’s second-largest populous nation. Deaths and case numbers are ceaselessly on the rise, threatening to paralyze the entire medical facility framework across the country. However, the government that earned goodwill a few months ago by sending the Covid-19 vaccine to more than 80 countries has now suspended the regimen to hold back the supplies for domestic use. And, so far, around 100 million doses have been administered via Covid vaccination centers in Delhi and other parts of the country.
India’s Covid Vaccination Centers
It all started on January 16, 2021
India launched its vaccination drive on January 16, 2021, keeping it restricted to the individuals working as frontline workers. On the launch of the drive, a sanitation worker became the first Indian to get the Covid-19 vaccine. The drive after few weeks expanded to people of other age groups with the establishment of dedicated Covid vaccination centers in Delhi and other parts of the country.
Around 600 million people would be eligible for vaccination
Now, the government of India has announced that each individual above 18 across the country would be vaccinated from May 1st, 2021. The decision was made based on the seriousness and gravity of the second wave of coronavirus. On 1 May, India is all set to move into uncharted territory. More than 600 million people in the age group of 18-25 would be part of the covid-19 vaccination drive. The drive will take place without any additional increase in India’s capacity to produce the vaccine that currently stands at about 75 million doses monthly.
India is currently giving jabs of two vaccines
The doses would be administered through some dedicated centers for Covid-19 vaccination in Delhi and other parts of the country.
India is currently giving jabs of two vaccines:
- The first is developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University (Covishield)
- The second one by the Indian firm Bharat Biotech (Covaxin).
Both were approved in January ahead of the vaccine rollout. In April, a third vaccine – Russia’s Sputnik V – also got approvals for use. Many other covid-19 vaccines are also in the queue and at different stages of trials.
India’s preparation to manage such a huge vaccine drive
For decades now, India has been successfully running different vaccination drives to safeguard its citizens against some of the deadliest virus infections such as Tuberculosis, Chickenpox, and Polio. Apart from these, the country has vaccinated millions of people including pregnant women, and newly born babies against various diseases. Experts are of the view that India is capable of and experienced enough to handle the world’s largest vaccination drive.
The main challenge lies in the rural areas where people are still skeptical about the vaccine and lack awareness of how to register digitally to be a part of the vaccination. With the special arrangement of dedicated centers for Covid-19 vaccination in Delhi and other parts of the country, the entire health infrastructure is making all-out efforts to combat the challenge.
The government’s take on Covid-19 vaccination
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is well aware of the catastrophic situation across the country and has recently limited the policy options in its toolkit. The government has decided to open up the vaccination for all above 18 and directed all public and private medical establishments including Covid vaccination centers in Delhi to stay open every day. As India is one of the biggest manufacturers of vaccines. The country will not have to face the supply constraints that even many developed countries in the world have faced.
The concerns regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine
Millions of Indians across the country can afford to pay for quicker and easier access to the vaccine. Various private organizations operating businesses within the country are willing to vaccinate their employees and various charitable institutions have also come up with their unflinching support for the program. Various recently concluded findings have confirmed that the people who have taken the vaccine twice at the Covid vaccination centers in Delhi have shown slowed mutations just contrary to the notions that lower immunity would give rise to the number of variants.
The mechanism of the effectiveness
Doctors around the globe are suggesting a gap of at least 16 weeks between the two doses so that the receiver’s body can find sufficient time to prepare the immune system to fight the coronavirus. There came up hundreds of cases in India where people were found to be positive even after taking the vaccine particularly the first one of the program. Experts have shed light on it saying that the vaccine does not start working immediately after the penetration. And takes some weeks to come into effect.
Some recently concluded international clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have confirmed that when a sufficient gap was maintained between the two doses, it rendered around 90% effectiveness. In some countries, the concept of ‘half dose-full dose’ is also making headlines. In this concept, the first dose is the exact half of the second. But, the data regarding this concept is still unclear and unpublished. However, one thing is for sure, the gap between the first and the second dose increases the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Some major vaccine candidates other than AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech
- ZyCov-Di, being developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus-Cadila
- Hyderabad-based Biological E, the first Indian private vaccine-making company, in collaboration with US-based Dynavax and Baylor College of Medicine
- HGCO19, India’s first mRNA vaccine made by Pune-based Genova in collaboration with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Corporation
- A nasal vaccine by Bharat BioTech
- A second vaccine being developed by Serum Institute of India and American vaccine development company Novavax.