Happy V-day: From despair to hope
Cartoon: Mika Azizi

The world is watching as India implements mass immunisation of its entire adult population, which is scheduled to kick-start today at 10.30 am with none other than PM Modi presiding over what his colleague and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has called ‘the beginning of the end’.

No one expects the pandemic to end overnight. But at least the vaccines available to us will cut down the fatalities, check the spread of the pandemic and ease the crushing burden on the health care system; it will provide the health care staff sustained protection in their fight against an almost invincible and invisible enemy.

On a more mundane level, it will help us escape the crippling cycle of restrictions and catch up with our lives, jobs and families. The transition is from despair to hope but in the arduous journey that has just begun hope will have to be tampered by the ground realities. Because we are all in unchartered territory.

Given that one-sixth of the worlds' population lives in India, the launch of the drive is indeed a historic moment – which has come almost a year after the first case of coronavirus was reported and having snuffed out over 1.5 lakh lives thus far.

Initially, there will be almost three lakh beneficiaries, belonging to priority groups; they will be administered the silver bullet at over 3,006 sites across the country. Around 100 beneficiaries will get the shot at each site.

The two vaccines – Oxford’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin – are indigenously manufactured, even though Oxford is of British origin. Brazil, Nepal and Bangladesh, afraid to take the leap dark, are among the countries which are waiting for the mass inoculation exercise in India to unravel.

India has surpassed the West by putting in place a Corona Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN), a digital platform, which will be used to track the enlisted beneficiaries on a real-time basis. PM Modi will launch the app on Saturday.

The platform enables national and state administrators to view and sort out the data of the beneficiaries as per their gender, age and comorbidity. They can also view the metadata of vaccination and the Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) reported from the constituent districts. Given that Indians have a high incidence of allergies – which some are not even aware of – the data will help determine the contours of phase 2 of the programme.

The entire vaccination process will be broadly similar to the election process. Each vaccination team will consist of five members, including security personnel, nurses, paramedics and a doctor. Three will be a waiting area, an inoculation room and a post-vaccination observation area. There will also be a reception desk for registration and verification of the beneficiaries.

The second dose of the Covid vaccine will be administered after an interval of fourteen days. Also, interchanging Covid-19 vaccines is not allowed.


Free Press Journal