A health worker conducts Covid-19 testing near Delhi–Noida Direct flyover in Noida, on November 23.(PTI)
A health worker conducts Covid-19 testing near Delhi–Noida Direct flyover in Noida, on November 23.(PTI)

Before meeting with PM, states discuss Covid vaccination plan

The Central government started preparing a road map for developing infrastructure for vaccine distribution across the country in August
By HT Correspondents | Edited by Smriti Sinha | Hindustan Times, Lucknow/Jaipur/Chennai
UPDATED ON NOV 24, 2020 09:38 AM IST

A day before meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Covid-19, several states on Monday issued instructions to collate data of frontline workers and vulnerable groups, and create cold chain infrastructure to transport vaccine.

The first batch of Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Serum Institute of India (SII) is expected in India by January-end or early February, SII managing director Adar Poonawalla had said at HT Leadership Summit last week.

On Monday, Astra Zeneca, which has tied up with SII for mass manufacture of the vaccine, said its Covid-19 vaccine showed around efficiency up to 90%.

India hopes to roll out the vaccine by March 2021, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan told Bloomberg in an interview on Monday, even through experts pointed out that India faces a big challenge in cold chain and distribution infrastructure. The Central government started preparing a road map for developing infrastructure for vaccine distribution across the country in August.

Also read | India’s active Covid case burden remains less than 5%: Govt data

On their part, states are also gearing up for administering Covid-19 vaccine and are preparing database of all frontline workers, who would get the vaccine dose in the first phase. Some state, such as Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, have already announced that the vaccine will be provided free of cost.

On Monday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath directed officials to complete all preparations for the prospective Covid-19 vaccination drive, including “a robust cold chain maintenance set-up” in all districts by December 15. “For Covid-19 vaccination, complete all preparations in a time-bound manner. Establish inter-department coordination,” a government statement quoted the CM as saying.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot chaired a meeting of all district magistrates on Monday and directed them to prepare a database of frontline workers so that the vaccine can be administered to them without any hassle. He also directed officials to build small cold storages at district headquarters for storing the vaccine.

In election-bound Tamil Nadu, where chief minister Palaniswami had announced in October that everyone in the state would get free vaccinations, work has started on the database of health workers. Tamil Nadu government has also formed two committees to prepare protocols for the distribution of a vaccine once it is rolled out.

The process of enlisting medical institutions, which includes hospitals and medical colleges, began in September, officials said. “Once a common portal by the Government of India is ready, we will upload our database,” said Dr TS Selvavinayagam, director of Directorate of Public Health and the principal investigator for vaccine trials in Tamil Nadu. The directorate will also issue an identity number to every individual entitled for vaccine on priority.

Two committees were formed a couple of days ago to plan vaccine distribution on priority basis and oversee logistical requirements.

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