Policy

Covid-19: ‘Next phase of vaccination to start soon’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 23, 2021

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan   -  -

Seniors and those with co-morbidities will get priority; pvt sector to play key role: Health Sec

The government on Tuesday assured that the vaccination of the elderly and those with various co-morbidities will commence soon but refused to give more details.

When asked about the timeline for the third phase of Covid-19 vaccination, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said “very soon”.

The private sector is already working very closely with the government in delivering healthcare. Out of over 10,000 hospitals currently involved in administering Covid vaccine, around 2,000 are from the private sector.

Combating new variants

“Going forward, they will have a major role to play in setting pace and extending coverage of the vaccination,” Bhushan said while addressing reporters here.

Vinod Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, said Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortium, consisting of 10 labs have identified 187 cases of the UK variant, six cases of South African variant and one case with Brazilian variant.

In addition, they identified two variants – which have been circulating in many States – in Maharashtra and Kerala.

But there is no scientific reason to believe that these (N440K and E484K) are responsible for the upsurge of infections that you see in some districts of Maharashtra and Kerala,” Paul said.

Bhushan said so far around 1.18 crore vaccinations have been carried out in the country.

About 68 per cent of healthcare workers have received the first dose of vaccination so far, even though the last date for receiving the first dose is technically getting over on Wednesday.

According to him as many as 11 States and Union Territories, including Karnataka, Telangana, Delhi, Punjab and Tamil Nadu have so far given first dose to less than 60 per cent of health care workers so far.

Expert’s take

Oommen C Kurian, a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation said there are multiple reasons why the States have not been able to achieve the target of giving at least one dose of vaccine to the heathcare workers.

“Healthcare workers are in a way burdened by their knowledge. In addition to the low infection numbers, many have perhaps been waiting for the Covaxin efficacy numbers also to emerge since they cannot freely choose between the vaccines,” Kurian said.

“If they are getting free vaccines only once, they’d want to make sure it is one with proven efficacy. Also, their assessment of individual risk in a time of low infections will be influenced by the fact that most of them may have already contracted the infection at some point in the last one year, given how our hospitals function,” he said.

Besides this, initial administrative glitches including that of the digital backbone (Co-WIN), which is only maturing, would have also contributed to the relative poor coverage in some States, Kurian said.

Published on February 23, 2021

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