The news of the efficacy of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine comes as a breather for India, where COVID-19 cases are inching towards the 93 lakh mark.
India is a vaccines powerhouse, contributing to 60% of the global production. We are home to half a dozen major manufacturers, including Serum Institute of India, which is the largest in the world.
Yet, vaccinating over a billion people against COVID-19 will be a huge challenge.
Biocon’s Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw discusses the vaccination challenge in an interview to BBC News where she highlights some key issues:
- As the COVID-19 vaccine is not an orally delivered vaccine like the polio vaccine, inoculating a large population will be a challenge.
- The fact that the government has a short window of maybe 3-6 months for mass immunisations makes the exercise more challenging.
- As injections cannot be given by anyone else other than nurses and doctors or medical professionals, how is the country going to muster the human resources needed to successfully vaccinate an entire country.
- Rural India, where the majority of the population lives, does not have adequate storage and cold chain capacity needed for the vaccine.
Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw also lays out some of the key questions the government will need to address for the vaccination programme.
- Does India have adequate inventory of syringes and needles needed for this vaccination programme?
- How are we going to prevent overcrowding during vaccination? Huge outbreaks of HIV and Hepatitis C have happened in Egypt because of a vaccination program.
- Who will get the vaccine first? Although there is no debate that our frontline healthcare workers, armed forces and the police should be the first ones to receive the vaccine, who next is the question?
- Who will pay for the vaccine? The federal government has made it clear that the state governments need to pay for the vaccine. And the state governments are saying that they are not going to pay for everything. So where is the financing going to come from?
Click below to listen to the interview.
Read the entire article here: Covid: How do you vaccinate a billion people?