In the time since vaccination began, India has vaccinated over 100 crore doses.
The world’s largest vaccination drive, India is stronger than it was at the start of the year when anxiety was high. Growth must be based on the trust of all stakeholders. Despite various attempts to create mistrust and panic, the vaccine was successful thanks to the trust people developed in it. People sometimes turn only to foreign brands for their protection. India’s trust in ‘Made in India’ vaccines was unanimous when it came to COVID-19.
Narendra Modi’s Digital India Dream
With Cowin, the Indian Government has been able to provide 100 crore vaccine shots to its citizens on the strength of its digital infrastructure. Government officials realized that a digital system was needed when they began the campaign to provide every citizen with COVID-19 vaccination. It was created within a few months.
In today’s world, COVID is a data repository, and when people receive a COVID shot, they feed their name, cell number, and their Aadhar number to the systems, which subsequently capture and store this data. A record is also kept of the fact that the citizen took the second dose.
Thus, the information contained in this database is verifiable. Through the use of this digital system, the government was able to bring the vaccination drive to an unprecedented level. On one day, 22.6 crore vaccine doses were recorded, and 1 crore-plus dose was distributed over several days.
Finally, it reached the landmark 100 crores vaccine doses. As a result of the digital system, a vaccine completion certificate can also be downloaded and carried along with a person, assuring that it can be presented to any authority, including in India as well as abroad. The accomplishment is nothing short of remarkable. No other country has built a digital infrastructure of these dimensions.
Many people in developed countries like the UK and the US still get handwritten certificates, which are not in any database and cannot be verified via a database as well. COVID vaccinations in India are digital from the start, an exception. During the Modi era, India’s prime minister ensured it had the digital infrastructure required for a successful vaccination campaign. India’s achievement of 100-crore vaccinations in such a short period is also no doubt because of the Serum Institute of India and others who created vaccines and helped scale delivery to unprecedented levels.
Government and health officials also deserve credit for making Covaxin available to Indians, enabling its registration and development. Moreover, government support enabled the Serum Institute to expand its vaccine development facilities. In addition to India, other countries may access Cowin as a digital infrastructure. As a result, I do believe Cowin should be white-labeled for use by all other countries. Digital India is one of the promises the prime minister made to us in 2015, and it has served India well. A massive vaccination program was made possible by it.
India Crosses 1 Billion Covid Jabs
In the last hundred years, nothing like the Coronavirus pandemic has occurred, and the second wave was particularly intense. The fear of a third storm seems to hit us just when we’re starting to relax, both literally and metaphorically. Our only effective way to deal with COVID-19 is by implementing the COVID-appropriate behavior of masking, distancing, handwashing, avoiding large crowds, and mass vaccination as soon as possible for all eligible citizens.
We have shielded ourselves from a possible third wave because of the lessons learned from the second wave. It has been the advent of vaccination and the universal availability of the vaccine that has been one of the most successful stories in our war against COVID-19. COVID vaccination must be a success. Several steps have to be taken, which are:
- A subsidized vaccine program
- To reduce vaccine hesitancy
- By reducing inequity in vaccine distribution
- To drive rural vaccination
Our success story was that all this happened in quick succession and we have vaccinated, on many days, over 1 crore people a day, an average of about 25 crore people in September. COVID-19 vaccines are among the most effective tools we have to prevent the spread of the virus as well as decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease.
We had some initial hiccups with vaccination starting in mid-January, however. Despite these obstacles, we are now on the right path. A milestone of 100 crore vaccines or one billion vaccine doses has been reached, which is greater than the combined population of the UK, US, Brazil, and Russia. This milestone has only been achieved by India and China.
It is to be congratulated on the government’s success in achieving this herculean task; the majority of citizens have been able to receive vaccine doses free of charge. There is no way to prevent another outbreak of devastation without mass vaccination, aggressive surveillance in the form of testing, genomic analysis, and COVID-appropriate behavior. These measures are necessary for preventing another spread of the deadly Delta variant, and precautions are a must.
A majority of Indians have antibodies to COVID, either due to natural exposure to the virus or because of vaccination. Approximately 70 crore people have now received 100 crore vaccine doses. Approximately 28 crore people have now received all vaccine doses. Thus, nearly 74% of adult Indians have at least received a single dose and 30% have received both. Depending on when and if the third wave hits us, these are very important factors.
Equitable Distribution Of The Vaccine
During the vaccination program, rural areas and overcoming the urban-rural divide were two of the main concerns. The large metropolitan areas and large urban centers have relatively good vaccination coverage. Many people got vaccinated due to their need to attend work or travel, and also due to relatively low vaccine hesitancy.
Vaccination is not lagging in rural areas either, which is great news. According to data, on average, districts have provided over 80 percent of their populations with at least one dose of vaccination, while about 30 percent of their populations have received a second dose. Luckily, vaccination coverage doesn’t seem to differ drastically between rural and urban areas.
All For One, And One For All
In India’s vaccine drive, the government and citizens worked together to reach a common goal in the spirit of people’s participation. Many initially doubted 130 crore Indians were capable of reaching this goal. Others doubted that people would get vaccinated, believing it would take 3-4 years. Some claimed that India would have widespread mismanagement and chaos, others doubted its ability to manage supply chains.
Nevertheless, just as with the 2020 national lockdown, Janta curfew, as well as subsequent lockdowns, the people proved that superb results can be achieved if people are regarded as partners. Nothing is impossible if everyone takes responsibility. Many different interest groups wanted to give them special treatment when it came to vaccinations. However, the GoI made sure that the vaccination drive wasn’t a VIP campaign.
The impending pandemic will ultimately require vaccines to be fought. That became apparent to us in early 2020. Earlier preparations were undertaken. A roadmap is being prepared to start in April 2020, following the formation of expert groups. Few countries have developed vaccines of their own; today, only a few have done so. A limited number of vaccine producers supply a vast majority of the world’s nations, and dozens more still wait for vaccines.
It is hard to imagine India without a vaccine. If the population is so large, how would the country procure enough vaccines? What would have been the time frame? Indian scientists and entrepreneurs have proven that they are up to the task here. In the area of vaccines, With such a large population, vaccine manufacturers have proved they are among the best in the world.
Progress has been accelerated and facilitated by the GoI. Vaccine makers have received support from the organization from day one. It provided institutional assistance, research funding, and accelerated regulatory processes. The ‘whole of government’ approach enabled all ministries to work together to eliminate any bottlenecks.
India is a country of enormous dimensions, so simply producing is not enough. The focus must be on providing seamless logistics and last-mile delivery. Imagine the journey that a vial of vaccine takes to reach its destination. Pune or Hyderabad plants send the vials to states that have a hub, which is then transported to district hubs. The vaccinations are then administered. Thousands of trips by plane and train must be made to accomplish this. The temperature must be maintained throughout this entire journey to a preset range that’s centralized.
We Are The Nation
Over a lakh, cold-chain machines were used in this project. The vaccine delivery schedule for each state was informed in advance so that they could plan better and the vaccines arrived when they were expected. Independent India has never undergone such an initiative. This effort was backed by a strong technical platform in Cowin. By ensuring equity, scalability, tracking, and transparency, the vaccine drive was made possible. It made sure that there was no room for favoritism or jumping the queue.
It also allowed poor workers to receive the first dose in their villages and the second dose in their workplaces after a specified period. An additional real-time dashboard boosts transparency, while QR-coded certificates guarantee verifiability. Not only in India, but also around the world, there are few examples of such an effort. In addition to demonstrating that ‘democracy works’, India’s vaccination drive has also demonstrated that it is possible to deliver a good result. Our youth, innovators, and all levels of government can be inspired by the achievement of the world’s largest vaccination drive to set new benchmarks for public service delivery that will not only inspire our country but also inspire other countries.
The Road Ahead
However, there is still a long way to go to accelerate vaccinations despite the phenomenal work in the last few months. Indian authorities anticipate that all adult citizens will be fully immunized by the end of this year. By the end of December, another 90 crore doses will have to be administered, which will no doubt be a difficult task. This will require daily administration of 1.25 crore vaccines on average for the next two-and-a-half months. The pace of vaccination certainly cannot be slowed down in the meantime.
Despite an optimistic outlook, we need to be vigilant and follow COVID-appropriate behavior such as masking, separating, handwashing, and avoiding large crowds until we are certain the COVID-19 virus has been wiped out. In conclusion, we are on the road to recovery and we should not take steps backward that will push us back to the miserable times experienced during Covid-19’s second wave.
Edited by Anupama Roy