COVID-19 vaccine India update: Rajesh Bhushan, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that the issue of deciding who receives the vaccine on a priority basis is something that is being discussed within the government and outside it as well.
COVID-19 vaccine India update: In the present scenario, the question ‘when will a vaccine for Coronavirus be found’ leads the common day-to-day discussion, followed by ‘who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is finally launched?’ As far as the latter is concerned, the Indian policymakers have said that they are actively deliberating to identify groups of people who will be the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine when it is developed, PTI reported officials as saying.
Talking about it, Rajesh Bhushan, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that the issue of deciding who receives the vaccine on a priority basis is something that is being discussed within the government and outside it as well.
Bhushan said that there’s a growing consensus that frontline workers would be the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine, but that hasn’t been finalised yet. Topics like whether frontline workers come first, and who gets the vaccine after that, is all under discussion, he added.
Discussions have also centred around whether the elderly or those with co-morbidities will receive the Coronavirus vaccine first, he said. Also, it is being discussed if people that are disadvantaged socio-economically — whose immunity is weakened due to prolonged exposure to poverty and malnutrition — should get it on a priority basis.
Speaking at the international symposium on Novel Ideas in Science and Ethics of Vaccines against COVID-19 pandemic, Bhushan said these questions are currently being discussed by the policymakers within the Government of India.
VK Paul, NITI Aayog member and part of the COVID-19 national taskforce, seconded this and said that India’s endeavour to find a safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccine will be driven by the best scientific and ethical principles and regulatory and scientific mechanisms are already in place for that.
Most importantly, Paul said that a situation where the rich have the vaccine and not the poor was “simply unacceptable.” He said the government is actively working to prioritise the groups that should receive the vaccine on priority.
He added that India’s capabilities against COVID-19 are not just for the country and Indians, but for the world and humanity at large. “The Indian government values and welcomes international partnerships, technical exchange, knowledge sharing and collective discourse in this journey,” Paul told PTI.
Balram Bhargava, Director General of Indian Medical Research Institute (ICMR), talked about the four challenges that will arise after a safe and effective vaccine is developed. Among the challenges, he mentioned the prioritisation and fair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable groups, second was related to the logistics of the Coronavirus vaccine rollout, third being stockpiling and fourth was the training of the people who would administer the said vaccine.
In these contexts, Bhargava said, India will have to play a significant role. And he added that he was sure India will play this role with great care and responsibility.