"In A Marathon, Not A 100-Metre Sprinter": Centre On Covid Vaccination

Overall, 34 crore people -- almost the equivalent of the US population -- have received at least one dose till now.

NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul cautioned that the second Covid wave was not over yet.

Highlights

  • Dr VK Paul cautioned that second wave of the pandemic was not over yet
  • Overall, 34 crore people have received at least one dose till now
  • It includes nearly 80% of healthcare workers, 90% frontline workers

India is vaccinating, on average, 50 lakh individuals -- almost equivalent to the population of Norway -- against Covid daily since June 21, the Centre said today. There has been an increase in the number since the government's new phase of the nationwide inoculation drive kicked in on June 21, according to Dr VK Paul, NITI Aayog member for health.

"The earlier estimate of 216 crore vaccine doses between August and December 2021 was an aspirational or optimistic one," Dr Paul said.

In a submission before the Supreme Court on June 26, the government had reduced that target figure to 135 crore. Going by this, the drive is now expected to cover around 93 crore adults by December this year.

The new phase of vaccination involves the Centre distributing 75 per cent of the doses to the states for free, with private hospitals accounting for the remaining 25 per cent, which is chargeable.

Overall, 34 crore people -- almost the equivalent of the US population -- have been vaccinated with at least one dose since the drive began on January 16, the government has said. This included nearly 80 per cent of the country's healthcare workers and 90 per cent of its frontline workers.

"We are in a marathon and not 100-metre sprinter," Dr Paul said speaking at a press conference in New Delhi when asked why the rate of vaccination had come down post the June 21 figure of over 90 lakhs.

He also cautioned that the second wave of the pandemic was not over yet, stressing vaccination and following the COVID-19 protocol. On June 29, the Ministry had said that the number of cases had declined continuously since India reported its peak of the second wave on May 7.

Delving into vaccine efficiency, Dr Paul cited data from a study by the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, showing how the number of deaths fell with inoculation.  

He said 15 deaths were reported among 4,868 non-vaccinated persons while this figure fell to nine among 35,856 people who had received one dose, according to the study. It further fell to only two among 42,720 individuals who had received both their doses.

Dr Paul said that a single vaccine dose ensures 92 per cent protection against COVID-19; this increased to 98 per cent with two doses.

Up to 71 districts reported a Covid positivity rate of over 10 per cent in the June 23-29 week, the government said.