Vaccination and India’s third COVID-19 wave
- Vaccination was shown to have been a lifesaver during the third wave of the pandemic.
- Just a month ago, India was reporting around 1,70,000 cases a day and latest numbers suggest it has plummeted to around 6,000. India is now contributing to only 0.7% of global cases.
Status of vaccination in India
- Last year this time, cases were below 5,000 a day, encouraging several States and the Center to claim that the pandemic was over, though there was a resurgence fuelled by the Delta variant which birthed a summer of catastrophe.
- There is, however, a crucial distinction between then and now in that over 75% of those over 15 years are now fully vaccinated in India.
- A small and growing number of those over 60 have had the third dose.
- Over 90% of Indians have been exposed to the virus combined with vaccination, are sufficiently protected against disease but not infection for many more months ahead.
- Avoiding vaccination makes one vulnerable to serious infection.
- Director-General of ICMR, said that 92% of those who died of COVID-19 since January this year were unvaccinated
- He underlined that vaccines and wide vaccination coverage had played an important role in protecting hundreds of lives.
- India is fortunate that it does not have to battle vaccine hesitancy in a large measure.
- The initial skepticism regarding the vaccines not having passed the typical stages of vaccine approval saw a certain degree of hesitation.
- But very soon it emerged that India’s main problem was an insufficient number of vaccines.
- Though India today has administered nearly 178 crore vaccine doses and have indigenously developed vaccines that have been approved in emergency mode by authorities, there are still serious questions on supply.
- Currently, vaccine demand is low and the vaccination drive is in mop up mode and administering second doses.
- If pandemic situations suddenly turn for a fourth wave to take shape, there would be a spike in demand for vaccinations for children, particularly those below 15, as well as booster doses for adults.
- Biotechnology companies should realize that having vaccines is very different from being ready with a seamless supply chain.
- The Indian government has still not made public a timeline for when vaccines from Biological E, Gennova and Zydus Cadila will be practically available for mass use.
- Though the world is occupied with a different crisis, India must not let its guard down and should insist on companies being ready with a measurable timeline.