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India achieves vaccination milestone


These are testing times for the countries as the Covid-19 pandemic has created chaos worldwide. Vaccines against Covid-19 brought some hope in 2021 that put a substantial break on the virus spread.

Starting with vaccination to 300 million healthcare workers, frontline workers and priority groups on January 16, 2021; India achieved the milestone of administering one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses on October 21, 2021.

Since then, the country has administered more than 156.76 crores (1.56 billion) doses. Of these, more than 90 crores (900m) got first doses, 650m second doses and 420m precautionary doses. The country’s national regulator, the Central Drugs and Standard Control Organisation, granted Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing permissions to six manufacturers in the country, while three vaccines — Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V — are being used currently in the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, a source from the Indian Ministry of Health said.

Besides putting an all-out effort to control the pandemic, India also achieved several path-breaking milestones, including administering over 100 crores (1 billion) doses in less than nine months. The country administered 2.51 crore doses in a single day, and on several occasions, it achieved 1 crore doses per day, which is truly historic.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a team success that displayed the country’s capability and the strength of the ‘sabka prayas’ (collective effort) mantra.

Overcoming vaccine hesitancy is a crucial factor in India’s successful vaccination drive.

Since the beginning of the vaccination drive on January 16, 2021, the campaign has covered more and more people in seven phases as of now:

January 16, 2021: Vaccination drive began for frontline and healthcare workers

March 1, 2021: Drive began for people above 60 years and those with co-morbidities in the age group of 45-60.

April 1, 2021: All above the age of 45 years became eligible for Covid-19 vaccination

May 1, 2021: All adults (18+) became eligible for Covid vaccination

November, 2021: Government launched Har Ghar Dastak (door-to-door) vaccination campaign to achieve 100 per cent first dose coverage

January 3, 2022: Adolescent population (15-18 years) began receiving Covid-19 vaccine

January 10, 2022: Administration of ‘precautionary dose’ the third or booster dose for frontline workers and vulnerable people above the age of 60 years.

The third wave of the pandemic — driven by the new variant of Omicron is currently causing disruption in India. However, India is at the forefront in fighting the deadly virus and overcoming its devastating impact.

“It is certainly better prepared than the second wave of the pandemic. Hospitals are better equipped than during the second wave. Importantly the government has increased isolation beds. It is pertinent to note that there has been a substantial increase in isolation and ICU bed capacity Pan-India. Before the first lockdown on March 23, 2020, these numbers were 10,180 and 2,168, respectively. By August 3, 2021, there were 18,03,266 isolation beds and 1,24,598 ICU beds in the country’’, media reports citing MoH report said.

“As far as oxygen facility is concerned, India has attempted to significantly step-up oxygen availability across states. From various sources, a total of 3,236 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants were installed on December 23, 2021, with a total commissioned oxygen capacity of 3783 MT’’, the report said.

“Keeping in mind oxygen crisis during the second wave of the pandemic, 114,000 oxygen concentrators are being provided to states under ‘PM Cares’ and Covid-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package-II, or ECRP-II.

In addition, ECRP-II funds have been sanctioned to the states for installation of 958 liquid medical oxygen storage tanks and medical gas pipeline systems in 1,374 hospitals’’, the media report said.

At the digital front too online digital solutions such as the Oxygen Demand Aggregation System (ODAS) and Oxygen Digital Tracking System (ODTS) have been developed to ascertain the demand for medical oxygen from all medical facilities and to track their transportation.

“Further to curb the spread of the Omicron, state governments in the country have imposed restrictions on the movement of people during weekends and during holidays. India is moving with caution under the third wave. There is certainly more planning and less panic’’, says the report.

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