The second most populous country in the world expects to vaccinate 300 million people against COVID-19 by July, a number was almost similar to that of the entire American population.India begins this Saturday one of the largest coronavirus vaccination campaigns on the planet, a colossal and complex task in a context of fear about vaccine safety, a shaky infrastructure, and public skepticism.
The second most populous country in the world expects to vaccinate 300 million of its 1.3 billion people by July 2021, a number is almost similar to that of the entire US population. People who work in health, those over 50, and those considered high risk are the priority groups to receive two approved vaccines, although one of them has not yet completed clinical trials.
On the first day, the plan is to inject the first of two doses into 300,000 people, including Prime Minister Modi who will kick off in New Delhi. The authorities assure that the experiences in organizing elections and in childhood vaccination campaigns against polio and tuberculosis will serve them for this enormous immunization.
THE HUGE INDIAN CHALLENGE
Around 1.5 million health workers in seven hundred districts have been trained and various tests have been carried out for the transport of vaccines. But the size of the country and poverty – coupled with very poor transportation networks and one of the health systems with fewer resources – make the task a daunting one.
The two vaccines approved so far must be kept cold all the time and others that are in development will also need to be kept at very low temperatures. For this, India has about 44,500 refrigerators, 42,000 high-temperature freezers, and three hundred solar-powered refrigerators. They will be needed especially when the high temperatures of the Indian summer hit strikes.
However, in recent trials in rural Uttar Pradesh (UP) a worker was seen carrying boxes of fake vaccines on the bar of his bicycle. There are also concerns about plans to manage the entire process through the application developed by India, Co-WIN, of which there are already several fake versions and phone lines do not always work. Authorities also need to make sure the vaccine doesn’t end up on India’s black drug market.
The approval of the Covaxin vaccine being developed by BHARAT BIOTECH without the completion of the 3rd phase human trials, as well as the death of one trial participant, has only eroded confidence in immunization. The other vaccine that has received the green light is Covishield, a version of the one developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford that is manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine and medicine manufacturer.