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Preparing a mechanism

editorial 5

As the global healthcare industry is all focused on bringing out a vaccine to deal with COVID-19 pandemic, there are some of the local challenges that several developing countries badly hit by the virus will face whenever the vaccine is made available for them. It is important that hugely populated countries like India should work to put in place a system that ensures seamless vaccination of people whenever it is finally out in public. We have already witnessed how health systems of some of the most technologically and scientifically advanced countries were brought to their knees by the virus that has devoured almost two million people globally and infected over 66 million. As such, India and other Asian should take a note of it and prepare well in advance for the mass vaccination drive once the vaccine is available. Last week, in a virtual meeting with three more teams developing and manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought suggestions and ideas on the regulatory processes and related matters. The suggestions were sought from Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd in Pune, Biological E Ltd in Hyderabad and Dr Reddys Laboratories Ltd, also in Hyderabad. Matters relating to logistics, transport, cold chain etc. for delivering the vaccines were also discussed, as PM Modi urged the companies to make an extra effort to use simple language to inform the general public about the vaccine and other related matters, such as its efficacy. This is the fourth important meeting PM Modi has chaired in the last 10 days to review the efforts in India to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. On November 20, he had chaired a high-level meeting with officials and scientists to take stock of the vaccine development initiatives, ongoing efforts to prepare a database of healthcare and frontline workers, augmentation of cold chains, enhancement of vaccine supply chain, and procurement of syringes and needles for mass vaccination drive, among other important issues. Later, he held a review meeting with all chief ministers and lieutenant governors on vaccine delivery where the modalities of distribution and administration were discussed at the state level.

According to government, five vaccines are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in phases 2-3 and one is in phase-1-2. The Prime Minister has appreciated the efforts made by scientists in these companies to come out with a vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic that broke out in China’s Wuhan province late last year. While it can be acknowledged that the authorities are putting in efforts to devise a mechanism for successful delivery of vaccines to the general populace, the thing that needs to be kept in mind is avoiding a chaotic situation while making sure that in the first phase, priority should be given to those at high-risk including elderly, kids, and frontline workers.