Govt to release list of comorbidities for inclusion in vaccination priority groups

By, New Delhi
Feb 19, 2021 02:39 AM IST

The government constituted an expert committee to draft and finalise a list and degree of the comorbidities.

Anyone with a congenital heart disease that leads to pulmonary arterial hypertension, end-stage kidney disease, or cancers such as lymphoma, leukaemia and myloma will be included in the priority

A nurse fills Covidshield dose in injection.(ANI)
A nurse fills Covidshield dose in injection.(ANI)

group of the general population that is set to begin getting coronavirus vaccines from next month, according to a top official who said the full set of comorbid conditions have been finalised and will be released shortly.

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Having any one of these conditions will qualify a person to sign up for the next phase of the vaccination process, which is meant to cover people particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

Apart from these, expected to be 10 million in number, the drive will cover roughly 260 million people above the age of 50.

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“The guidelines to identify individuals with comorbidities have already been prepared. It will be unveiled very soon. Apart from the expert group, we have discussed with state governments and we are in comfort that this is implementable,” NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul said at a webinar on Thursday.

The government constituted an expert committee to draft and finalise a list and degree of the comorbidities. In addition to the ones mentioned above, more conditions are likely to figure in the list, including decompensated liver cirrhosis (deterioration of liver function due to scarring), primary immune deficiency conditions and sickle cell anaemia.

“All I can say is that we formed a committee which had almost 15 to 20 experts – two for cardiology, two for nephrology, and so on – and they looked at their experience and the literature to see how a particular disease enhances the risk for mortality in Covid-19. It’s a very evidence based document,” said Paul.

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“It will boil down to the patient records classifying individual whether they have one particular disease or the other which will qualify for us to be included in the priority group,” he added.

So far, India has administered over 9.8 million doses of two Covid-19 vaccine – Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

The country is short of its targets, having reached only 6.6 million of the 10 million health workers it targeted to cover by February 20.

So far, around 30% of the frontline workers – people such as police, sanitation workers and military personnel -- identified across the country have received their first shots 1. States will start vaccinating those above the age of 50 and with the soon-to-be-identified comorbid conditions in March.

Officials from Delhi earlier said that people with co-morbidities will have to upload their doctor’s certificate to register on CoWIN for the vaccination drive.

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“A simple analysis of our data showed that 80% of the deaths in the country occurred in individuals above the age of 50, so they were identified as a priority group. Also, around two-thirds of the people who died had some serious comorbidities.

Now, 70% of the people with co-morbidities are above the age of 50 and are already covered. We needed to identify the 1 crore people below the age of 50 who had co-morbidities,” said Dr Paul.

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    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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