- Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, said that the government would carry out the Covid-19 vaccine starting on 13 January
- The government will carry out the first stage of immunization, which will focus on health care workers, emergency service employees and the elderly
- The government also said that 71 persons have so far identified the UK strain of the coronavirus, but that there is no untoward cluster of the new strain
In a press briefing on Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry announced that it was ready to roll out the coronavirus vaccine by 13 January and added that the Central Government would soon make a final decision on the launch date.
The Ministry, which also published recent COVID-19 data in India, reported that the new virus strain, which was first identified in Britain, did not have ‘untoward clusters’.
Here are the main takeaways:
1) The Ministry of Health is ready to carry out the coronavirus vaccine in India as early as 13 January, which is just 10 days from the day on which two candidates, the indigenous Oxford and the locally produced Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, were granted Emergency Use Approval by the government.
2) Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Professor Balrama Bhargava, has also stated that there is no ban on vaccine exports. Earlier, after initial indication by the vaccine manufacturer that they would supply the vaccine to India’s vulnerable population before exporting it overseas, there were some questions raised. In several South Asian and developing countries across the globe, India is a leading supplier of drugs and vaccines.
3) The Ministry also confirmed that the latest strain of the virus identified in the UK has been detected in 71 individuals so far. However, the latest strain is not an untoward cluster, the ministry said.
Dr VK Paul, member of NITI Aayog (Health) said, “In terms of the latest UK mutant issue, this mutation has reached this country and 71 have been isolated, which demonstrates our ability to perform that kind of scientific investigation. But at the same time, as of now, we have not seen the emergence of any untoward cluster in the nation that so far is reassuring.”
4) With respect to the two vaccines which have been approved by the DCGI for restricted emergency use, Paul reiterated that all scientific and statutory criteria have been met and regulatory guidelines have been followed in granting such permission and authorisation.
5) The roll-out of the vaccine will be supported by the indigenously developed Co-Win app, which will compile database for inoculation program and a way to monitor the health and progress of recipients.
6) Healthcare staff and frontline workers would not have to enrol themselves for Phase 1 of the vaccine roll-out as their database has been filled on a bulk basis in the Co-WIN vaccine delivery management system. However, the provision of registration and editing of data will be made available if the inoculation program enters the stage where the shot is received by the population priority group.
7) Co-WIN will have a provision to create a distinctive health ID and store the receipt of approval in a DigiLocker that is free to use. Union Health Secretary, Bhushan, stated, “In case of an adverse event, to ensure its real time reporting there is a provision in Co-WIN vaccine delivery management system.”
8) Bhushan further claimed that Co-WIN has an automated session allocation facility, Aadhaar authentication to prevent malpractice, authentication, development of a Unique Health ID for willing recipients, documenting and monitoring of adverse effects following immunization, if any, SMS in 12 languages to direct recipients and vaccinators, 24×7 Helpline including IT professionals, QR code-based vaccination certificate given after all doses, DigiLocker combined for data retrieval and storing QR code-based certificate.
9) Of the total active COVID-19 cases currently, Bhushan said that 43.96 percent of patients are in health facilities, while 56.04 percent are in home isolation. He added, “India’s cumulative coronavirus positivity rate has declined to 5.87%; last week positivity rate was observed at 1.97%. Bhushan also further stated in the press conference, “Overall burden on healthcare infrastructure in country on account of COVID-19 has declined substantially.”
10) The Ministry of Health said, “For the past five weeks, the average COVID-19 recovered cases have surpassed the average daily new cases, and also COVID-19’s daily positivity rate is steadily decreasing and has been less than 3 percent from 23 December 2020 to 5 January 2021.
11) Of the estimated active cases of COVID-19, 43.96 percent of patients are actually in health facilities, while 56.04 percent are in home isolation.
12) The cumulative COVID-19 positivity rate in India has decreased to 5.87 percent; the positive rate has been reported at 1.97 percent last week. As a consequence of COVID-19, the overall burden on healthcare infrastructure has decreased significantly in the country, the health ministry said.