NEW DELHI: Revealing details of India’s vaccination plans for Covid-19, health minister Harsh Vardhan said the government is expecting to receive and utilise 40-50 crore doses to cover 20-25 crore people by July 2021 and has started working on plans to ramp up human resource and training capacity on a massive scale.
The Centre has also asked the states to submit lists of populations that would receive the vaccine on priority, especially health workers engaged in Covid-19 management, Vadhan said during an interaction on social media called ‘Sunday Samvad’. Vaccine procurement will be done centrally and consignments tracked real-time to ensure they reach those who need it the most and there is no black-marketing.
Outlining the priority accorded to healthcare workers, Vardhan said the list of frontline personnel will include government as well as private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, ASHA workers, surveillance officers and many other occupational categories who are involved in tracing, testing and treatment of patients. This planning exercise is to be completed by the end of October.
The government is keeping an eye on immunity data with regard to Covid-19 disease while finalising these plans, Vardhan said. “Our government is working round-the-clock to ensure that there is a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, once they are ready. Our utmost priority is how to ensure a vaccine for each and everybody in the country,” he said.
India has three vaccines in phase 2-3 trials, which are so far showing promising results. The Serum Institute of India is partnering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine while Bharat Biotech is developing COVAXIN and Zydus Cadila is working on the third. India is also part of the GAVI alliance that is intended to ensure that 92 low and middle income countries get access to the vaccine.
The government has indicated that a vaccine could be available by early 2021, but sources said that the exact approvals will depend on when trial data is made available. “There is no reason to delay approvals once the data is validated,” said an official.
The minister said a high-level committee headed by NITI Aayog member, health, Dr V K Paul, is drawing up the entire plan, including timelines of availability of various vaccines in the country, obtaining commitments from vaccine manufacturers to make available maximum number of doses for India inventory and supply chain management and also on prioritisation of high-risk groups.
“This is a work in progress which will be completed by the time the vaccines are ready to ensure the swift rollout of an immunisation programme,” Vardhan said. The Centre is also closely guiding states to submit details about cold-chain facilities and other related infrastructure, which will be required down to the block level.


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