Narendra Modi reviews India’s vaccination strategy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday reviewed India’s procurement and delivery strategy of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“Held a meeting to review India’s vaccination strategy and the way forward. Important issues related to progress of vaccine development, regulatory approvals and procurement were discussed,” Modi tweeted.

“Reviewed various issues like prioritisation of population groups, reaching out to HCWs (health care workers), cold-chain Infrastructure augmentation, adding vaccinators and tech platform for vaccine roll-out,” he added.

The meeting was attended by Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, principal scientific advisor Vijay Raghavan, and Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, among others.

According to officials who did not want to be named, the PM was apprised of the progress on the research related to Covid-19 vaccine candidates within the country and also globally.

“It was a review meeting of almost all departments that are involved in various stages — be it vaccine research, procurement, delivery and administration,” said a senior government official in the know of things.

Five vaccine candidates are at the human clinical trials stage in the country at the moment. The PM was informed about the trial results and what is expected in weeks to come and regulatory approvals, the official added.

The progress of talks with other countries and foreign vaccine manufacturers was also discussed.

Since India is looking at vaccinating 250-300 million people by July next year, Modi was also informed about the priority list that has so far been drafted to administer vaccine in the initial phase.

“The states have been asked to draw up a list of health care and frontline workers who will essentially be given the vaccine in the first phase. The number comes to about 30 million as it is being estimated for now,” said the official quoted above.

Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said at the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Thursday that he hoped at least 30% to 40% Indians will get the vaccine by the end of next year.

Corona warriors and people above 65 years of age, and those between 50 and 65 years and less than 50 years with chronic diseases are expected to be given priority.

Another important aspect of cold storage management as well as the human resource factor that would be involved in vaccine delivery was also discussed at Friday’s review meeting.

“Vaccinators are being trained; and for cold chain there have to be deep freezers, vans and other facilities to be put in place. Private players are also being roped in,” said the official.

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