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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/21/21

Will India's 1 billion vaccination-dose-milestone be catalytic for vaccinating all?

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India has crossed 1 billion doses administered goalpost but only 20% of people are fully vaccinated as of now. Long way to go still
India has crossed 1 billion doses administered goalpost but only 20% of people are fully vaccinated as of now. Long way to go still
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On 21 October 2021, India crossed its milestone of administering over 1 billion (100 crores) doses within 278 days since it began the vaccination rollout (on 16th January 2021).

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls upon all countries to ensure that at least 70% of their population must be fully vaccinated by June 2022. India aims to cross 70% goalpost by end of this year - which is indeed a welcome commitment. Currently, over 20% of India's population is fully vaccinated. As vaccination began in January 2021, it is really a compelling public health priority for India to fully vaccinate over 70% of population at the earliest, before protection may begin to decline for some of those who got the jab first.

Vaccination in some other countries is also happening at commendable pace. Countries like Singapore that had first fully vaccinated over 80% of its people earlier this year, China had administered over 2.3 billion doses, countries in North America and Europe had fully vaccinated 50% to 80% (or more) of its population and even begun rollout of booster doses despite the WHO cautioning against it.

Renowned infectious diseases expert Dr Ishwar Gilada who is also the Secretary General of Organised Medicine Academic Guild (OMAG) said that "No doubt, crossing 1 billion vaccine doses is a real festival for India, but mind well, we are half way through for reaching the hypothetical figure of 70% of population being fully vaccinated for attaining herd immunity. India has a population of almost 1.4 billion, so we need 2.8 billion doses to vaccinate everyone."

"Currently India is aiming to vaccinate all eligible people above 18 years of age (940 million). A recent decision was made to vaccinate those in 12-17 years age group which is additional 170 million eligible people. So now, to fully vaccinate all eligible people above age 12, we will need to administer 2.22 billion doses. While it is commendable for India to cross 1 billion dose administration landmark, we need to accelerate the pace to administer the remaining 1.22 billion within a limited time-period" added Dr Ishwar Gilada, who is also the President of AIDS Society of India (ASI) and elected to the Governing Council of International AIDS Society (IAS).

Call to fully rollout all approved vaccines on scale

Dr Suneela Garg, President of Organised Medicine Academic Guild (OMAG) joins Dr Gilada in appealing to government of India to fully rollout all approved vaccines in the country. Currently, only three out of six vaccines have been rolled out, and only one out of these three rolled out vaccines, accounts for majority of the doses administered. "All (99.9%) of the vaccine doses administered in India are domestically manufactured within the nation with Covishield (Oxford AstraZeneca) accounting for maximum doses administered (89%). Then, about 11% doses administered are of Covaxin and a very small number of Sputnik V, have also been administered" said Dr Suneela Garg.

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