India’s vaccination strategy, restricting the doses to limited groups of people, has been designed with the aim of giving precedence to those who need rather than those who want to be vaccinated, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters on Tuesday.
Responding to the growing clamour for vaccination to be opened for all above 18 years of age, Bhushan said the driving force of the vaccination exercise in India as well as in most western countries has been aiming to reduce the number of deaths and protect the healthcare system.
“The most vulnerable have to be saved,” Bhushan added. While extending vaccination for all above 45 years of age, the health ministry had said that this age group accounted for 88 per cent of Covid-19 deaths in the country.
The health secretary gave examples of countries such as the US, UK, France, Australia and Sweden where vaccination has been limited to elderly populations or those who are at high risk.
“Vaccine is finite. We should not lose focus on controlling the pandemic. Are we using the capacity of vaccination centres fully or following Covid-appropriate behaviour?” said V K Paul, member-health, Niti Aayog.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 8.3 million doses had been administered in the country. India had also achieved its highest single day vaccine coverage of more than 4.3 million doses.
India’s daily new cases continued to rise with 96,982 new infections registered in the last one day.
Eight states — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat — have shown a steep rise in the daily new cases, together reporting 80.04 per cent of the nationwide new cases.
While Maharashtra has announced lockdown measures, the Delhi government, too, has announced a night curfew in the capital city from 10pm to 5am till April 30.
Covid deaths are also beginning to show an upward trend with 446 casualties being reported in the last 24 hours, reaching the July levels. At the first peak of the pandemic, India was reporting more than 1,000 daily deaths.
On the upcoming Kumbh and Covid-related risks, the health secretary said that the duration of the festival had already been curtailed from three-four months to one and adequate protocol has been put in place.