With the promising development of the Coronavirus vaccine all across the globe, one of the upcoming challenges that the countries will now face is their equitable distribution amongst its citizens.
Currently, the vaccine developed jointly by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute’s and AstraZeneca is showing some promising results. India is the manufacturing partner of this vaccine.
The world is pinning its hopes on a vaccine to instill “herd immunity” in its masses. The vaccine will serve two main purposes, firstly it will reduce the infectivity amongst the people, and secondly, it will also reduce transmission of the disease even if a person comes into contact with an infected person.
The main concern of Gavi, the vaccine alliance is that the vaccine should be accessible to all income groups. Generally, the higher-income countries have higher rates of the vaccine while lower-income countries often do not have access to these resources. There is a division among economic lines which is rightly pointed out by Bill Gates. Bill Gates wrote, “During a pandemic, vaccines and antivirals can’t simply be sold to the highest bidder. They should be available and affordable for people who are at the heart of the outbreak and in greatest need. Not only is such distribution the right thing to do, but it’s also the right strategy for short-circuiting transmission and preventing future pandemics.”
India is closely witnessing the trails of the vaccines and is expecting to receive and utilize 40-50 crore doses of the vaccine to vaccinate 20-25 crore people by July 2021 and has started acting on plans to ramp up training capacity on a huge scale. The need of building a low-cost infrastructure is felt by the ICMR and the Central government because India is a populous country with a huge economic divide.
The Union Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan, in his “Sunday Samvaad” held on 4th October, has clarified many doubts related to the vaccine development and building of infrastructure in India. Union Health Minister stated that the vaccine procurement is going to be done centrally and consignments are going to be tracked in real-time to make sure that they reach those that need it the foremost and there’s no black-marketing. The main focus of the government will be vaccinating the frontline warriors first which include doctors, nurses, sanitization workers, ASHA workers, and many other such people who are at a high risk of exposure.
We're expecting that early next year we should have vaccine in the country from maybe more than one source.
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) October 13, 2020
The Serum Institute of India that is conducting the phase 3 trials of the Oxford university vaccine has also clarified that it will produce extra doses so that every needy person can have the access to the vaccine. India is also producing its indigenous vaccine in collaboration with Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadilla is also working on a cost-effective vaccine so that no one is left untouched.
The Union Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan also clarified that the Indian government is working hard to ensure “fair and equitable distribution” of the vaccines and they will take every step to ensure that it is available to each and every person in India.
It will be long before the Vaccine will be available to the common masses freely in the stores, therefore having a plan to do an equitable distribution of vaccine is a must. It is a healthy step on behalf of the health ministry to work on a plan so early, but the fact remains that it will be a humongous task to make them available on a pre-set priority basis. It will be interesting to see how it will pan out on the ground.