Day 1 of nationwide dry run concludes as two Covid-19 vaccines await final nod
The nationwide dry run of Covid-19 vaccination on its first day took place on Saturday with state governments expressing confidence to start the vaccination programme whenever the Centre gives a go-ahead. A total of 286 session sites spread across 125 districts were conducted and more than 75 lakh beneficiaries have already been registered on Co-WIN software till date, the health ministry said. Around 1,14,100 vaccinators have been trained so far. The dry run helps states and local authorities identify areas where they need to develop — in training or in arranging for more spacious areas for vaccination — so that the actual vaccination process does not encounter any glitch.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday said vaccine in the state will be available around January 14, during the Makar Sankranti festival. Kerala health minister KK Shailaja said the Centre will send vaccine stocks within two to three days. Meanwhile, the subject expert committee of Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation on Saturday made three crucial recommendations. It has granted Serum Institute of India the permission for restricted emergency use of the vaccine, subject to multiple regulatory conditionalities.
Bharat Biotech too got recommendation from the committee for restricted use of its vaccine in emergency situation in public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode specially in the context of infection by mutant strains.
Cadila Healthcare got the permission for the conduct of its third phase of clinical trial.
Union health minister Harshh Vardhan, as he took stock of the dry run exercises, said vaccine to frontline workers will be administered free. He said the details of how 27 crore priority beneficiaries -- those above 50 years of age and those below it having comorbidities -- would be vaccinated until July were being finalised.
In Delhi, the dry-run was being conducted in state capitals in at least three session sites. Some states also included districts that are situated in difficult terrain or have poor logistical support, according to officials. Maharashtra, Kerala and Gujarat conducted the mock drill in four districts each, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in five districts each while Rajasthan carried out the dry-run in seven districts.
Before today’s dry run, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Punjab conducted dry run on December 28-29 with at least 125 intended beneficiaries at five sites in a maximum of two districts each.The union health ministry had said that no major issues were observed during the pilot dry run and all states had expressed confidence in the operational guidelines and IT platform for large-scale programme implementation.
“I appeal to the people not to be misguided by rumours regarding safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccine. We will not compromise on any protocol before approving a vaccine,” Vardhan said adding that vaccine hesitancy was an issue even when the country started polio immunisation drive.
In West Bengal, the dry run was held at Urban Primary Health Centres in Duttabad and Madhyagram and Amdanga Rural Hospital in North 24 Parganas district. A senior official in Assam said the dry run will continue regularly in the state till actual vaccination takes place.
Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said overall, the processes worked successfully. The dry run was held at three centres each in the districts of Chennai, Tiruvallur, Nilgiris and Tirunelveli, and five in Coimbatore. Representatives of the World Health Organization too were present.
“An initial learning was that the room earmarked for vaccination should be more spacious,” the secretary said, as reported by PTI.
An important focus of the dry run was on the management of any possible adverse events following immunisation (AEFI), and adherence and management of infection control practices at the session site to prevent disease transmission, the union health ministry had said.
(With agency inputs)