SARS-CoV-2 has reached an unpreceded high in India recording 2.73 lakh cases in a day. Worried by the heavy caseloads, the government said a statement that all vaccinations will be opened to all above 18 years old from May 1st.
The government also said, “All adults will be vaccinated and states can buy vaccines directly from makers in the “liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination.” This announcement was made after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings over India’s response to record daily surges in COVID cases.
To date, the government had allowed vaccinations only for frontline workers and those above 45; however, the new mutation of the virus is affecting youth and children as well.
India began vaccinating people in January using two Covid vaccines – Serum Institute of India’s Covishield developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech’s made-in-India Covaxin. To date, the government had allowed vaccinations only for health workers, frontline workers and those above 45 in a centrally controlled process.
In recent weeks, due to the merciless surging of SARS-CoV-2, state governments such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab have called for opening up vaccinations and had also complained about running out of vaccine stocks.
The number of people vaccinated has been comparatively slow compared to the centre’s target and has documented over two lakh cases daily in the past few days. The sights of bodies being burned on pavements due to lack of space and available cremetariums are frightening and also the continued rallies by the Prime Minister in the face of the pandemic.
Encouragingly, however, recently, the government fast-tracked approvals for foreign vaccines cleared in other countries. PM Modi in his meetings stressed that vaccination was “the biggest weapon” in the fight against the coronavirus and urged doctors to encourage more and more patients to get vaccinated.
Pricing, procurement, eligibility and administering of vaccines will be flexible in the latest round of the world’s largest vaccination drive.
Vaccine manufacturers have been encouraged to scale up their production and release up to 50 per cent of their supply to states and in the open market at a declared price.
States can now get additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers. On the basis of these prices, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments can buy vaccine doses from the manufacturers.
Vaccinations at central government centres provided free of cost, will continue for previous categories – health workers, frontline workers and those above 45.
The Centre will distribute vaccines from its share to States or Union Territories based on the number of cases. Vaccine wastage can affect the quota of a state.
The second dose for existing priority groups will be a priority.
It is a good more to allow youth adults from 18 upwards to receive the vaccine because in an alarming turn of events, even youth and children are getting the coronavirus in the second deadlier wave with its new mutant that appears to be more noxious with spiralling death rates and now even children and young adults are contracting the virus.
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