Coronavirus vaccine update: However, if the central government wants to “prevent transmission” then younger, working-age populations, who will be interacting more with others, should be vaccinated. (Reuters image)
Coronavirus vaccine in India: Who will get the Covid-19 first in India? The question has been doing rounds after Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan announced that the Central government was planning to receive and utilize 400-500 million doses of Coronavirus covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021. India’s one of the most eminent medical scientists Dr Gagandeep Kang has asserted that “Prioritisation needs to define purpose”, as per a report in Indian Express.
If the Central government’s aim is to prevent the disease as much as possible, then those most at risk of severe disease – healthcare workers, the elderly, those with comorbidities, need to be vaccinated first. However, if the central government wants to “prevent transmission” then younger, working-age populations, who will be interacting more with others, should be vaccinated. Without clarity on the goals, one cannot prioritize, said Dr. Kang. Dr. Kang is a professor of microbiology at Christian Medical College, Vellore. She played a critical role in the development of the indigenous rotavirus vaccine.
“There has been very detailed guidance on principles to use for allocation and planning for supply and delivery, issued by WHO and partners; it would be useful to have the prioritization strategy more clearly described. For example, assuming the vaccine is prioritized for healthcare workers, will infectious disease consultants get it before pathologists? Similarly, a ward boy maybe with patients all day long while the doctor may spend one hour a day with patients; who gets the vaccine first?” Dr. Kang told IE.
As the Centre gears up for mass vaccination, the National Expert Group on vaccine administration for Covid-19 has started working on mapping cold chain storage facilities across India. These cold chain storage facilities include those available with the food processing industry. The central government has formed a subgroup to monitor the cold chain storage. IAS officer S Aparna, who is the Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, has been entrusted with the duty of heading the subgroup, as per the IE report.
Why cold chain is important? Vaccines are generally damaged in excessive heat, light, or cold. For transportation and storage, a temperature-controlled ‘cold’ supply chain is pivotal.