The jab of health

Feverish preparations are going on across India for the ‘world’s biggest vaccination drive’ beginning January 16

With just hours to go before the first anti-COVID injections are given to the very first lot of beneficiaries — including three crore healthcare and frontline workers, high-risk groups with co-morbidities and around 27 crore people over 50 years of age — across India on January 16, the mammoth scale of preparations resembles a General Elections-type or a wartime-like setting, with pace, precision, efficiency, teamwork and synergy being the buzzwords. While the States firmed up their plans and fine-tuned logistical details, there were airplanes carrying the two vaccines flying into airports across the country from where the precious cargo was dispatched to small cities and towns in readiness for the inoculation exercise, and the police across States were in all readiness to receive and swiftly transport the life-saving immunogen and ensure its safety while it was under their charge. A day after the first consignment of 56 lakh doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine rolled out from the stable of the Serum Institute of India (SII) manufacturing facility in Pune to 13 cities, the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech — which has donated 16.5 lakh doses to the Centre — said it had successfully transported Covaxin, developed in collaboration with the ICMR and the National Institute of Virology, to 11 cities. On a day when there were reports of “promising new antibodies” being found against the Coronavirus and China recorded a spike in cases ahead of a World Health Organisation team’s visit to investigate the origins of the virus, the exercise signalled India entering a decisive phase in its fight against the pandemic that has left the world crippled and economies in the doldrums.

Currently, active COVID-19 cases in India stand at 2,14,507 while 1,01,29,111 people have recovered from the disease after the country reported a single-day rise of 15,968 new cases and 202 fatalities, pushing its virus caseload to 1,04,95,147 and the death toll to 1,51,529, according to the Union Health Ministry. The world has been waiting with bated breath to get inoculated against the virus. The world’s most inexpensive vaccines are now being made available in India. Even the Union Health Ministry categorically stated that the two vaccines in India would be probably the “cheapest” vials because these are not being sold at market rates. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has clarified that the option of choosing either vaccine wasn’t available to the person going for vaccination, adding that only countries with a variety of vaccines available to them could enjoy this luxury. The Government Medical Store Department (GMSD) in Karnal, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai are being treated as the four main storage centres for the vaccine rollout, which shall see a “sequential rollout”. The Union Government, realising the import of the historic drive, also advised the States to “exercise continuous oversight and personal involvement at the highest level in the entire process” of the vaccination exercise. We wish the Union Health Ministry, the various pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccines and the State Governments deploying the vaccines, the very best of luck going into the inoculation drive. We also hope and pray that there are no untoward incidents and all unforeseen hiccups can be dealt with promptly. All of us need and want the “world’s biggest vaccination drive” to be a success so that the Herculean job of vaccinating millions of Indians can be completed as soon as possible.

Source: The Pioneer

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