Covid-19 Vaccine Matters: India's jab drive staggers

Covid-19 Vaccine Matters: Inoculation drive staggers, concerns mount over efficacy

Since the second wave, India's vaccination guidelines have been dogged by inconsistencies

Representative image. Credit: PTI File Photo

As India launched its new vaccination policy on June 21, India administered a record 85 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines on Monday, with the Centre providing free vaccines to all above 18 years.

Madhya Pradesh topped the chart administering 15.4 lakh doses, Karnataka came runner-up with 10.67 lakh shots, though Bengaluru Urban clocked the most jabs in the entire nation at 2.14 lakh doses.

However, there is a twist to this fairytale: A day after Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest daily Covid-19 vaccinations, the state's numbers witnessed a free fall, plummeting to a mere 4,842 doses on Tuesday. On Sunday, a day before the new drive came into force, MP had administered a meagre 692 doses.

Since the second wave, India's vaccination guidelines have been dogged by inconsistencies creating confusion among states, private companies and recipients. According to the new immunisation guidelines, the Centre will now procure 75% of vaccines being produced by manufacturers in the country, leaving the balance 25% for the private sector. Can the revised guidelines scheduled to come into effect on June 21, reverse the damage done in the last two months?

On the international front, China — once the centre of the outbreak — on Sunday said it has administered over one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country. The United States will likely fail to meet President Joe Biden's goal to deliver at least one Covid-19 vaccine to 70% of adults by July 4, officials said on Tuesday and warned the Delta variant first found in India poses the greatest threat to US eradication efforts.

North Korea has told the World Health Organization it tested more than 30,000 people for the coronavirus through June 10 but has yet to find a single infection. Experts widely doubt North Korea's claim that it has not had a single case of the virus, given its poor health infrastructure and porous border with China

Meanwhile, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to jail people who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Philippines battles one of Asia's worst outbreaks

A World Health Organization epidemologist on Monday said that it is seeing 'reduced efficacy' of Covid-19 vaccines against the Delta variant — not classified as a 'variant of concern.'

The emergence of a more mutated form of the infectious 'Delta' variant of the novel coronavirus has scientists on edge. Just as the Delta variant superseded all other variants, there is concern that 'Delta Plus', too, could take over.

Amidst these concerns, are booster shots and mixed vaccine doses the answer?

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has submitted phase-III clinical trial data for its vaccine Covaxin to the Drugs Controller General of India over the past weekend. Covaxin is also awaiting WHO's Emergency Use Listing (EUL) after the global health regulator accepted its expression of interest for the same, and a pre-submission meeting took place on June 23.

      Doctors in Kerala have detected seven cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome – a rare neurological disorder – within a month among 12 lakh people who received the Covishield vaccine, prompting them to alert others to watch out for GBS among the vaccine recipients.   

In some positive news, a study by the ICMR and an Odisha Health centre found that in a sample size of about 360 people, only 9 per cent of those fully vaccinated contracted serious infection requiring hospitalisation. The findings of this study, although on a small sample size, is key if it is a genuine indication of reduction of severity in Covid-19 infections.

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