India Pollination has begun the health Sabbath workers are possibly the largest in the world Covid-19 vaccination Campaign, and join the ranks of the rich countries where efforts are already underway.
India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the largest vaccination programs. But there is no evidence of the magnitude of the current challenge.
Indian authorities are planning an initial round of 300 million vaccines – roughly the population of the U.S. Beneficiaries will include 30 million doctors, nurses and other frontline workers, followed by 270 million people over the age of 50 or with underlying medical conditions.
For the health workers who have helped the nation move past this deadly scourge, the shots gave hope that life will soon begin to return to normal.
“I am excited that I am among the first to get the vaccine,” said Geeta Devi, the nurse, as she raised her left sleeve to receive the vaccine.
“I am happy to have a vaccine made in India and we do not have to depend on others for it,” said Devi, who has treated patients at a hospital in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh in the heart of India.
The first dose was given to a sanitation worker at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the campaign with a nationally televised address.
“We are launching the largest vaccination campaign in the world, and this shows the world what we can do,” Modi said. He appealed to citizens not to believe “rumors” that question the safety of vaccines.
It was not clear if Modi, 70, had received the vaccine. His government said the politicians would not be considered priority groups in the first phase of the offering.
Health officials have not specified what percentage the campaign will target for the nearly 1.4 billion people in India. But experts say it will definitely be the largest coronavirus vaccination campaign in the world.
But the sheer size has its pitfalls. For example, India plans to rely heavily on a digital platform to track the shipment and delivery of vaccines. But public health experts point out that the internet is still patchy in large parts of the country and nonexistent in some remote areas.
The Ministry of Health said that about 100 people were due to be vaccinated in each of the 3,006 centers across the country on the first day.
The injections were picked up by news cameras across hundreds of hospitals, confirming pent-up hopes that vaccination was the first step in overcoming the epidemic that has devastated the lives of many Indians and infected the country’s economy.
India was approved on January 4 Emergency use Two vaccines, one developed by the University of Oxford and UK pharmaceutical maker AstraZeneca, and the other by India’s Bharat Biotech. Cargo planes flew 16.5 million rounds to various Indian cities last week.
But doubts about the effectiveness of the local vaccine create obstacles for the ambitious plan.
Health experts are concerned that the regulatory shortcut taken to approve the Bharat Biotech vaccine without waiting for concrete data that would show its effectiveness in preventing disease from coronavirus could amplify the vaccine frequency. At least one Minister of Health opposed its use.
In New Delhi, doctors at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the city, have demanded that the AstraZeneca vaccine be given instead of the one developed by Bharat Biotech. The hospital’s Doctors Syndicate said that many of its members were “somewhat apprehensive about not having a complete trial” of the home-made vaccine.
“At the moment, we don’t have a choice between vaccinations,” said Dr. Nirmalaya Mohapatra, vice president of the hospital’s resident physicians’ association.
India’s Ministry of Health resented the criticism and said both vaccines are safe.
According to Dr. SB Calantree, director of a rural hospital in Maharashtra, the hardest-hit state in India, such an approach has been alarming. He said the regulatory approval was hasty.
“In a hurry to become populist, the government is making decisions that may not be in the interest of the common man,” Calantree said.
Against the backdrop of the high death toll from the Covid-19 virus worldwide – it exceeded two million people on Friday – the clock is ticking to vaccinate the largest possible number of people.
In wealthy countries including the United States, Britain, Israel, Canada and Germany, millions of citizens have already been given some protective measure with at least one dose of vaccines that have been developed with revolutionary speed and rapid use.
Elsewhere, however, vaccination campaigns have barely begun on the ground. Many experts anticipate another year of loss and suffering in places like Iran, India, Mexico and Brazil, which together account for about a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 deaths.
India comes second after the United States, with 10.5 million confirmed cases, and third in the number of deaths, after the United States and Brazil, with 152,000 cases.
More than 35 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines have been given around the world, according to the University of Oxford.
While the majority of available vaccine doses have been snapped up by rich countries, COVAX, a UN-backed project to supply vaccines to developing parts of the world, lacks vaccines, money, and logistical assistance.
As a result, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization, Dr. Sumiya Swaminathan, warned this week that herd immunity – which requires at least 70% of the world to be vaccinated – is unlikely to materialize this year.
“Even if it happened in a few pockets, in a few countries, it wouldn’t protect people around the world,” she said.