Coronavirus vaccination | India

COVID-19 vaccination | India prioritising second dose until year-end: officials

The government is yet to approve vaccines for children as well as booster doses even as global concerns emerge of the Omicron variant being far more capable of evading protective antibodies.

The government is yet to approve vaccines for children as well as booster doses even as global concerns emerge of the Omicron variant being far more capable of evading protective antibodies.

While about 87% of India’s adults have got at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 56% fully vaccinated, the government’s current priority appears to be increasing the second dose over the first, officials told The Hindu .

With two weeks left for the year-end, the country is still far from its target of vaccinating all adults by that time.

So far, 136.7 crore doses have been administered, with 82.6 crore being the first one and 54.1 crore the second one. The target is to inoculate 94 crore adults by December 31 as per claims by several Union Ministers through the year.

Since October 16 to 22, however, the second dose number has steadily outpaced that of the first. From 2.1 crore second dose and 1.59 crore first one in that week, the week from December 11-17 has seen the first dose fall to 1.2 crore and the second one increase to 3.36 crore. So far, India has inoculated at least 60% of its population with one dose and 40% fully vaccinated. The government is yet to approve vaccines for children as well as booster doses even as global concerns emerge of the Omicron variant being far more capable of evading protective antibodies in those vaccinated as well those who have been exposed to a live infection.

Experts say that while targeting 100% of population is “ideal,” reaching out to the last 10%-20% is challenging as experience with previous vaccination programmes had shown, said Samiran Panda, who heads the epidemiology and infectious disease section of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Innovative approaches

“While inoculating an entire population is ideal, I’d rather have 80% of the population fully vaccinated. By all accounts, that would in itself be a tremendous achievement,” Dr. Panda told The Hindu , “Logistics, vaccine hesitancy, geographical challenges all play a role in reaching out to the last fraction of the population. We have a project of delivering vaccines through drones, called I-Drone, and you’d have to employ innovative approaches such as this for full coverage.”

More than 60 countries across the world are providing booster doses and India has at least four clinical trials going on to test the feasibility of mixing approved vaccines and using them as booster doses.

Of the vaccines administered so far, Covaxin comprises about 10%. Its maker Bharat Biotech said in May that it took four months for a batch of Covaxin to be manufactured and readied for supply. That month, Dr. V.K. Paul, Chairman, National Empowered Group on Vaccines, said India would have close to 216 crore doses from August-December. But when the Union Health Ministry, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in July, said that only 135 crore doses would be available, he clarified that his estimate was “aspirational.”


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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 9:36:40 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/covid-19-vaccination-india-prioritising-second-dose-until-year-end-officials/article37986194.ece