India writes History as it Conducts the World's Largest Vaccination Programme against COVID-19: A Sneak Peek

India writes History as it Conducts the World's Largest Vaccination Programme against COVID-19: A Sn

The world’s largest inoculation drive against the COVID-19 virus was flagged-off in India on January 16th. The pan-Indian vaccination campaign was launched by the country’s Honorable Prime Minster Nagendra Modi on Saturday morning at 10:30 am via a video conference.

Dubbed as the world’s largest vaccination programme, the campaign inculcates a total of 3006 session sites across all States/UTs, which will be connected virtually. The first day witnessed the voluntary vaccination of 100 people in each of the 3006 dedicated centres in the country, kick-starting the biggest such vaccination programme in the world.

The vaccination drive offers beneficiaries choice between the two authorized vaccines in India – Covishield and Covaxin. It has been further clarified by the Health Ministry that health workers, both in the government and private sectors shall get the first preference while receiving the vaccine.  The Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan further stated that adequate doses of both the vaccines have already been delivered across the country, and an online digital platform named CoWIN have also been developed by the Health Ministry to drive the vaccination programme more efficiently. The platform CoWIN, facilitates real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries as well.

“This digital platform will assist programme managers across National, State, and District levels while conducting vaccination sessions. It will help them track beneficiary coverage, beneficiary dropouts, sessions planned v/s sessions held and vaccine utilization,” said the Health Ministry.

Additionally, the digital platform also enables state administrators to view and sort out the data of the beneficiaries according to their gender and age. Around 30 million frontline health workers will get the first preference in the nationwide vaccination drive followed by those in the sanitation and security forces, and only then to about 270 million people older than the age of 50.

The government of India has already procured 11 million dosses of the AstraZeneca COVISHIELD shot, produced by the Serum Institute of India, and 5.5 million of Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN. At present, the COVISHIELD vaccine has an efficacy rate of 72 percent according to the Indian Drug Regulator, while the COVAXIN shot developed by Bharat Biotech is still in its last- stage trial, and the results are expected by March, 2021.

India – the world’s second most populous country after China, has reported the highest number of Coronavirus infections after USA with a total number of caseloads of 10.5 million thus far. More than 151,000 individuals have already succumbed to the virus in the country, although the number of active cases has come down significantly since the mid-September peak.