An employee in personal protective equipment (PPE) removes vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from a visual inspection machine inside a lab at Serum Institute of India, Pune.(REUTERS)
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Heart patients, diabetics may get doses on priority

The officials added that there will also be a door-to-door survey across the country and existing government databases will be used to identify such people.
By Saubhadra Chatterji | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 13, 2020 08:46 AM IST

Indians with heart ailments, hypertension or diabetes are likely to be classified as those with comorbidities and will be put on the list of those who will get a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine on a priority basis, officials involved in the vaccine plan said on Saturday.

The officials added that there will also be a door-to-door survey across the country and existing government databases will be used to identify such people. The household surveys will also be for those above 50. People who fall in these two categories have been identified by the government as those from the general public who will get access to a vaccine first, besides health workers and frontline service staff such as police and municipal employees.

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“The voter list already provides us the age-wise profile of the people in a locality. We have to conduct a door-to-door survey to reconfirm the names and also find out comorbidities. Anganwadi workers and Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) would be tapped for this purpose,” said one of these officials, asking not to be named.

The three categories of people will together account for roughly 300 million of India’s population of 1.3 billion people, the government estimates. The comorbidities identified include a clutch of diseases that raise the likelihood of a patient having a serious or even a fatal outcome if he or she contract the coronavirus disease.

“The list is being worked on by a panel headed by Dr Randeep Guleria, the head of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), to finalise which ailments would be included in the list of comorbidities,” the person quoted above said.

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According to the National Family Health Survey-4, at least 5.8% of women and 8% men across India are projected to have high blood sugar, which raises their risk of becoming diabetic. The survey also found the prevalence of hypertension to be around 13.6% among the male population and 8.8% among the female population.

In terms of heart diseases, a 2018 study published in The Lancet journal found that cardiovascular disease caused more than 2.1 million deaths in India in 2015 at all ages, reflecting the widespread prevalence of heart ailments.

According to the officials quoted above, the process of identifying people with comorbidities through surveys will be in addition to multiple government databases where such information is also recorded. At present, these include records under the Ayushman Bharat policy, those collected during Covid-19 testing and household surveys and the self-reported information from the Aarogya Setu mobile application.

People who have had any Covid-19 test have been required to declare their Aadhaar numbers as well as details of whether they suffer from any comorbid conditions – this data will also be taken into account, the person quoted above added.

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