Learnings from India's COVID 19 fight.

Vishnuaravi

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This article essentially gives you examples of those districts that have turned around their slow pace in COVID vaccination.

In the past couple of months, India’s COVID vaccination speed has increased considerably, and there are multiple examples of how different districts have convinced people to take the vaccine and have fought against the ongoing vaccine myths in many places.

The example of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu and Bantkatwa in Bihar, wherein the beginning the vaccination rates were pretty slow. But initiatives by NGOs such as the COVID SOS, under which people were educated, there were meetings held involving the seniors in the villages so that they could convince the people that the myths going around about vaccines are all false.

Also, understand the fact that India is not the only country where a few people believed in the vaccine myths and refused to take the vaccine. In fact, the developed nations, including the US, are also facing these problems. In the US, a considerable number of people have refused to take the vaccine, saying that it is against science. So much so that the government of the US has had to make it compulsory in the government offices and in the government departments to make it mandatory for their employees to take vaccines. Even then, there are many instances of people in the US resigning from their jobs, saying that “I will not take a vaccine. It is against my right to freedom of choice.”

So let’s appreciate the fact that in India, we have not reached such a bad situation. In India, we still have most people who believe in the science of vaccines as compared to many developed nations also who are facing this kind of a problem.

There are a lot of positive signs to be seen from India’s COVID vaccine journey.

  • The first positive sign is that the coverage of vaccines in rural areas also is at par with the urban areas.
  • Secondly, the vaccine supply, which was an issue earlier, is not an issue anymore. We now are in a situation where we have more supply than demand for the COVID vaccine. However, there are still some issues that remain, which we need to look at below.

Now, what exactly are the concerns?

First, there are over 10 crore Indians who have missed their second dose deadline, which remains an issue. Many experts have pointed out that just having one dose without the second dose would not secure you. As of today, India has given 112 crore COVID doses, which is much more than any country, and when I say much more than any country, we are not including China in this because no one, including the WHO trust the numbers given by the Chinese. So China says that we have vaccinated everyone, but no one trusts them. 

So India still is regarded as a country where most doses have been given. About 37 crore population has been fully vaccinated. That means both the doses given, while close to 80 crore people in India have had at least one dose.

Apart from the people missing their second dose, the other concern is about children. 41% of India’s population right now comprises of children who are under 18 who are still not eligible for a COVID vaccine. There are many scientific studies done on whether or not vaccines are safe for children, but they have not been implemented on the ground.

Vaccine by Zydus Cadila received emergency use authorization for children from 12 to 18 years, but it requires special training of needle-free administration so that is the process that is still going on.

Covaxin also is still to get approval for the age group of 2 to 18 from DCGI (i.e) Drug Controller General of India.

It is also important to understand something about COVAX. COVAX is a worldwide initiative for equitable distribution of the COVID 19 vaccine. So COVAX is an initiative by many developed nations and some NGOs such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. What they did was they started distributing vaccines to developing nations specifically who would not otherwise be able to afford vaccines in the beginning. So what they did was they took extra doses from the developed nations and distributed them to the developing nations without charging them anything.

The first country in the world to get vaccines delivered from COVAX was Ghana as early as in February 2021. After Ghana, countries such as Moldova, Ivory Coast, Uruguay also received vaccines under this.

Now let me come to the most interesting part. The most interesting part is that India has received the highest number of vaccines under the COVAX programme, for which we have not had to pay anything. These were some of the initial doses of vaccine that we got.

Now to return the favour, the Indian government has announced that we will also be contributing to the COVAX scheme so that the vaccines can be distributed to other nations also. Now that we are in a position where we have some extra vaccines. The Indian government will also be resuming the export of vaccines under the Vaccine Maitri programme from the beginning of the next year. Under the Vaccine Maitri programme, we held a lot of countries by exporting vaccines, which also led to criticism of the Indian government. Under the Vaccine Maitri programme, most of the vaccines that we have given are to Bangladesh, and there are a bunch of other countries as well.

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Hi, I am Vishnu, and I have been a blogger for more than 2 years now; and I will provide some knowledgeable current international news to my readers.

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