India Begins Largest Vaccination Drive in the World to Beat Coronavirus

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The previous year was a year of suffering. The whole world suffered from an infectious disease that brought about disastrous circumstances for all.  Now with the struggling fight against Covid, some countries are still trying to shift their economic curve upwards. Some people lost their loved ones while many people stayed far away from their families. But this year brings some hope for us which blooms a sense of positivity among the people. The beginning of the end of COVID-19 has started in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched one of the world’s largest vaccination campaigns. Now like other countries India also begins its largest vaccination drive in the world to beat Coronavirus.

When did India start their COVID 19 vaccination campaign?

PM Modi launches Covid-19 vaccine drive in India: Key highlights from his  speech | Hindustan Times

The Government of India launched the world’s largest inoculation exercise—India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive on 16/01/2021. In a virtual address, Prime Minister Modi motivated the citizens and paid tribute to the scientists and healthcare workers. He said that they are the people to put their lives on the line to save us. These vaccines are our ‘sanjivini’ (live-saving drug) in our fight against the pandemic. He also told that vaccine is not the end of this pandemic, it is just a means to combat its infection. Therefore, we still have to follow all the precautionary measures to avoid the infection. We should not avoid the use of face masks and sanitizers. People have to maintain social distancing and avoid public gatherings to reduce the spread of infection. If a person gets infected, then during the incubation period the vaccine will not be effective. 

Which Covid-19 vaccines get approved in India?

The drug regulatory authority of India gave the green light to the two Covid-19 vaccines – one developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University and the other by the Indian firm Bharat Biotech. The vaccine prepared by AstraZeneca and Oxford in partnership with the Serum Institute of India (SII) named it Covishield. Secondly, Bharat Biotech developed India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV). After successful completion of the interim analysis from the different trials, both the vaccines received approval for emergency use in India. Both of these are two-shot vaccines.

The Serum Institute of India

Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. SII have produced different kinds of vaccines and sold more than 1.5 billion doses globally. Vaccines manufactured by SII includes doses of Polio vaccine as well as Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines. The CEO of Serum Institute Mr. Adar Poonawalla said their vaccine is 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection. During the transportation and for storage, the SII candidate required 2 degrees to 8-degree (household refrigerator) Celsius temperature.

Bharat Biotech

Bharat Biotech International Limited is an Indian biotechnology company. Its headquarters is located in Hyderabad. The company deals in drug discovery, drug development, manufacture of vaccines, bio-therapeutics, pharmaceuticals and healthcare products. A report calls COVAXIN an inactivated vaccine. This is one of the oldest methods for vaccinating people. In this method, the body receives inactivated viruses to trigger an immune response. Before injecting, scientists grown these whole batches of viruses and killed them using a chemical or heat. Then it made into a vaccine and this makes it a long process.

Which age group to be vaccinated during the campaign?

India will administer shots to 1 crore healthcare and 2 crore frontline workers working in both government and private hospitals in phase one. According to the recommendation by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the healthcare workers have further divided into sub-categories. The first category consists of people above 60 years and the second group has people of 50-60 years of age. The remaining population will be inoculated after the people on the priority list are covered. However, Covid-19 vaccination is allowed only for 18 years and above for now. Moreover, lactating mothers and pregnant women or who are not sure of their pregnancy will not receive the vaccine.

There are more than three thousand session sites across the country. At each site almost every beneficiary is given either of two vaccines i.e. Covishield and Covaxin. In the gap of 28 days, every beneficiary will need to receive two doses of the same vaccine. The government is using Aadhaar and the Co-WIN platform extensively to identify and monitor beneficiaries. If all goes according to the plan, then around 30 crore people may be vaccinated against the contagion by the end of July.

First person of India who got vaccinated:

Manish Kumar first to take shot in Delhi | Hindustan Times
Covid-19 vaccination: What explains the mixed response in India? -  Coronavirus Outbreak News

Sanitation Worker Manish Kumar became the first person in the country who received first shot of vaccine against the coronavirus. Thirty-three-year-old Manish works at Delhi’s AIIMS along with his mother in the sanitation department. Healthcare worker Dhawal Dwivedi was the second person to be inoculated, followed by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria and NITI Aayog’s senior member Dr V K Paul.

Moreover, BJP leader and MP from Uttar Pradesh Mahesh Sharma received the first shot of covid vaccine. Dr Mahesh Sharma is also a trained doctor who supported this vaccination campaign by initiating the inoculation. The hospital management kept Dr Sharma a 61-year-old former union minister under observation for 30 minutes in Noida. To motivate the citizens and also to remove the fear of side effects of the vaccine Rabindranath Chatterjee, a Trinamool Congress MLA received the first shot of Covid vaccine.

Side effects and rumors related to vaccine:

Since the vaccines are new, the government has to monitor to understand risk profiles and adverse events. Hence, it is important to focus on proper adverse effects. After the first day of the vaccination campaign, India has reported nearly 447 adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. The Health Ministry confirmed the news of the side effects of COVID 19 vaccines. According to state government data, few health care workers who took the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in New Delhi suffered from its side-effects, while some beneficiaries showed minor side-effects including chest tightness, headache, rashes, respiratory distress and tachycardia.

Union Health Minister said “The vaccines are safe. The vaccinated person might face some side effects like mild fever, pain at the injection site and body-ache. These are the similar symptoms of the side effects that occur post some other vaccines. Other than that no other serious symptoms are being observed yet. Both the vaccines went through different trials and are safe for the people including older ones”. Moreover, vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech stated that they will compensate the beneficiaries who received Covaxin and suffered from adverse events due to it.

How to Register Yourself to get get vaccination:

General people have to pre-register themselves through an online platform who want the shots of vaccines. Government did not allowed on-the-spot registration. For registering yourself you have to follow the following steps:

  1. On the CoWIN Website register yourself.
  2. Upload your government photo identity or AADHAAR for authentication. The authentication can happen via biometrics, OTP, or demographic.
  3. After your registration, you will receive a date and time for vaccination.

What is CoWIN?

During the outbreak of Covid-19, the Indian government came out with the Aarogya Setu app. This app keeps a track of the cases and concentration of novel coronavirus infections. Now, it is the time for CoWin-20 app when the government has launched the COVID-19 vaccination program. CoWin-20 is a digital platform where one can apply for a Covid-19 vaccine shot. The respective district administration is responsible for the session management in the CoWIN system. According to the government the primary objective of the CoWin-20 app is to help agencies in keeping a track of the Covid-19 vaccination program.

Since the vaccination has kicked off formally in India, we can hope that we will soon get rid of Covid-19. There are also hopes that this vaccination drive will eventually help recovering the economy. India has previously defeated many contagious diseases and has successfully completed the vaccination campaigns like Polio. However, there is no harm in following some preventive measures to stay healthy whether you received the vaccine or not.

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