Monday, Jan 11, 2021 07:45 [IST]

Last Update: Monday, Jan 11, 2021 02:06 [IST]

In anticipation

The wait may be finally over. India is all set to kick off the vaccination drive against Covid-19 on January 16, 2021. India plans to inoculate 300 million of its 1.3 billion people in the first six to eight months of this year. The rollout of Covid vaccine will provide priority to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers who are estimated to be around 3 crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore.
Calling it a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19, on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review status of COVID-19 in the country along with preparedness of the states and UTs for Covid vaccination. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis, he said. The vaccine will be free of cost for this group. The government has scheduled to start the drive just after the forthcoming festivals such as Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu, among others. PM Modi said India is ready with two vaccines for the protection of humanity and the world is not only waiting for them but also watching how the country runs the globe’s biggest vaccination programme. It may be mentioned here that India’s drugs regulator recently approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country. Two dry runs of the vaccines have also been conducted across the country to understand the best way to administer them and plug loopholes in logistics and training.
Modi lauded India’s fight against COVID-19 and said we are among the countries with the lowest fatality rate and the highest recovery rate. He also said the way the country stood together during the pandemic was unparalleled.
The government has already held three nationwide dry runs to proof the vaccine delivery system last week, with 4,895 sites across 615 districts in 33 states and union territories covered, including Sikkim.
On Sunday the government approved two vaccines for emergency use - Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Covishield, which was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and is being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India. Both vaccines, the statement from the health ministry said, have established safety and immunogenicity. Delivering the vaccines at that scale would require a scale of operation we have not seen anywhere before. It would require over tens of thousands of vaccination clinics working seven days a week vaccinating from morning to evening in an extremely well-coordinated manner. The government has released a detailed blueprint of its plan of action, describing it as “broadly similar to the election process”. The vaccination exercise is underpinned by the principles of people’s participation (Jan Bhagidari); utilising experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunization Program (UIP); no compromise of existing healthcare services, especially national programs and primary health care; no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms, other SOPs; and an orderly and smooth implementation driven by technology.
Flawlessly executing the vaccine distribution and vaccine administration plan requires very strong trust and rapport across multiple levels of government. There is the need to have agile decision making structures when parts of the plan don’t work because of last minute issues on the demand side or the supply side. Fingers crossed.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi