PM Modi to interact with Covid-19 vaccination beneficiaries, vaccinators in Varanasi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with Covid-19 vaccine beneficiaries and vaccinators in Varanasi via video conferencing at 1.15pm on Friday. Modi tweeted the interaction will be a first-hand opportunity to hear their experiences as well as feedback as the world’s largest vaccination drive is underway in India and front-line warriors are getting vaccinated.
The interaction comes as over a million health workers have now been vaccinated, with over 230,000 getting doses on Thursday alone. The government data shows there has been an increase in daily immunisations after the drive was seen to be losing steam due to vaccine hesitancy and technical glitches.
Reports suggest that Modi is likely to address vaccine hesitancy affecting turnouts in his interaction.
News agency Press Trust of India quoted the Prime Minister’s Office saying that Modi’s interaction in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi follows his “continuous dialogue and discussion with scientists, political leaders, officials and other stakeholders to proactively ensure smooth conduct of the world’s largest vaccination drive”.
Modi launched the inoculation drive on January 16 with over 300 million front-line workers prioritised to get the jabs first.
The immunisation numbers reported on Thursday are the highest in a single day. The highest before this was a little over 200,000 doses that were given on the day of the launch on January 16. The increase comes on the back of tweaks in the digital management platform to allow walk-ins and repeated appeals from top government officials for people to come forward.
The cumulative number of vaccinations, while still a little over 57% of the target, is an improvement over what was seen on Wednesday when it was 55%. Some regions such as Delhi saw a significant jump in turnout. The city was averaging around 50% but it was over 73% on Thursday.
According to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data, India is now the fastest country to breach the million mark, taking only six days compared to nine by the US. But almost nine million more health workers are still to be vaccinated and, at two doses per person (second doses need to be given 28 days after the first), India will need to ramp up its pace further to achieve the 300 million target it has set for later this summer.
The pace in recent days has worried authorities as well as experts and has been leading to wastage of doses since vaccinators at some locations could not find enough recipients to finish quantities from the vials that they had opened.
On Tuesday, the top health officials of the country appealed to recipients to not be reluctant and said it was particularly upsetting that doctors and nurses were being hesitant despite adequate data and arrangements to tackle side effects.
On Thursday, the government launched a mass awareness campaign.
The grant of emergency approval to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin this month without efficacy data for the home-grown vaccine has triggered criticism from experts and the opposition. The data from the international trials of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, also approved by India’s drug regulator, suggests that it prevents transmission. This requires more research before it can be established. No such data is available for Covaxin as yet.
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