The health ministry is prepared to roll out the Covid vaccine within 10 days of the emergency use authorisation, which was granted to two companies on January 3. While giving this information on Tuesday, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters that the final date would be decided by the government. The roll-out is being planned, including the logistics and technology network, based on the feedback from the recent dry run of the vaccination process, according to Bhushan. Aadhar verification too will be a part of the online vaccine delivery platform Co-Win.
Addressing the weekly briefing on Covid, Bhushan said health workers including doctors and nurses as well as frontline workers such as police personnel and home guards would not have to register on the online platform to get vaccinated. Their data has already been uploaded on the Co-Win vaccine delivery management system.
For people above 50 years of age and those with co-morbidities, a committee of health experts is studying the linkages between diseases and increased mortality if there is a Covid infection. The committee will suggest who among this group will be given top priority and how the vaccine will be rolled out for them. “We are almost there...we have very eminent people working on it,” V K Paul, member-health, Niti Aayog, said.
In the backdrop of all the controversy around vaccine approval, Paul mentioned that scientific rigour, statutory requirements and regulatory norms had been followed while giving restricted use authorization to the two vaccine candidates — Covishield and Covaxin.
Besides Serum Institute of India (manufacturing the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine) and Bharat Biotech, Pfizer-BioNtech too applied for emergency approval of vaccine. However, US pharma major Pfizer is yet to make a presentation to the subject expert committee (SEC). “Pfizer has been given three opportunities, but they have not appeared before the SEC...SEC is willing to listen to their presentation,” Bhushan said.
Detailing the plan, Bhushan pointed out that vaccine manufacturers would transfer the vaccine to four large depots in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. From these depots, the vaccine will travel through refrigerated vans to 37 state vaccine stores. These are places where vaccines can reach in bulk. Thereafter, it will travel to temperature-controlled facilities across districts before reaching primary health centres.
Aiding the journey and storage of vaccine will be digitally-monitored networks and temperature trackers. And at the centre of it all will be a server, where information will be uploaded real time, according to Bhushan. The Co-Win platform is being upgraded to cater to a target group of 300 million individuals. Beneficiaries will be given an option to generate a unique health ID while registering for vaccination. This health ID is part of the government’s national digital health mission.
The online system will also require Aadhaar verification “to prevent malpractice’’. The software is being upgraded to improve its user interface based on the feedback received from the dry run for vaccine administration held on January 2. Bhushan also said the average recovered cases from Covid-19 have exceeded average daily new cases for the last five weeks. Of the total active cases, 43.96 per cent patients were in healthcare facilities, while 56.04 per cent were in home isolation.