Union Health Ministry said on April 10, 2021 that India’s fresh Covid-19 cases have climbed to 1,45,384. The number of active cases has breached the 10 lakh mark again after six and a half months. The recovery rate dropped to 90.80 %, according to government data. The fatality is highest in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Delhi.
In different parts of the country, partial lockdowns have been imposed. Maharashtra has started janta curfew.
While India is a leading Covid-19 vaccine producer, it lags in domestic vaccination drive. According to government data, as of April 7, around 85 million doses had been administered nationally. Anyone aged 45 or above is eligible to take Covid-19 vaccine in India. The following chart shows a comparative status of vaccination of some countries.
(chart is with Abhijit Das)
Adequate cold chain is a precondition to have a successful vaccination programme in a country. The cold chain infrastructure in India is known to be skewed towards developed states. As has been reported in the media, about four cold chain points serve 1,00,000 population in Gujarat, whereas there is just one cold chain point for the same number of people in Jharkhand. India has been an advanced country at least in production of vaccines. The Serum Institute of India (SII) alone can produce 1.5 billion vaccine doses every year and is expected to produce one billion doses of the Novavax vaccine. But distribution of vaccines requires well established cold chain. If government plans to vaccinate 30 crore vulnerable people of the country as early as possible, it means India requires 60 crore doses of vaccines till August (target). But for many experts, it is not possible unless India creates adequate cold chain infrastructure.
India’s vaccine distribution network is operated through four government medical stores depots in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. These centres procure vaccines from the manufacturers. The vaccines are distributed through these centres via insulated vans to various parts of the country. It is estimated that to make the first phase of vaccination successful, India requires to expand its public sector distribution capacity by two to three times. India has already improved its infrastructure. It has improved its electronic vaccine intelligence network.
In vaccination management, India’s ranking is low. As per the WHO and the UNICEF in 2018, India’s rank was within the 51 to 75 percentile range among 89 countries of the world. So in vaccine management, India needs to improve much. Now many states have been trying to improve the infrastructure for vaccination.
Dr. Sayantan Banerjee, senior consultant of infectious diseases, Beleaghata Infectious Diseases, Kolkata, said that it is improving. In the second wave of Covid-19, the rate of infection is much higher. But the people in general are not being cautious. Most of them are not maintaining guidelines for Covid like physical distancing, wearing masks, proper sanitising etc. That is why the scope of spreading Covid-19 is higher than the first phase. The fatality rate would be higher in the second wave than in the first wave.
Dr. Banerjee said that more and more producers are expected to provide vaccines in the coming days. In that case, supply would increase. Secondly, the number of Covid clinics will be increased. Thirdly, production has to increase. Fourthly, vaccine hesitancy of people is very high. State governments should take steps to increase awareness among the people about the efficacy of vaccination.