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COVID – Vaccine Challenge

COVID – Vaccine Challenge

UPSC CSE – SYLLABUS – GS – 2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

COVID – Vaccine Challenge

Vaccine development in the world:

  • On December 2, the United Kingdom (UK)’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency became the first regulator to grant temporary authorisation based on a phase III trial, to Pfizer and BioNTech’s mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine.
  • On December 7, the UK began the process of administering vaccines.
  • Results from the Astra-Zeneca/University of Oxford vaccine, based on a chimpanzee adenoviral vector, well exceed the 50% efficacy requested by the World Health Organization (WHO) and regulators, leading to the reasonable assumption that most vaccines that are based on the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2 will be successful.
  • In India:
  • In India, Pfizer has applied to the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation for emergency approval, under the provisions of the New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rule, 2019, which allow the national regulatory authority to waive clinical trials.
  • Even if Pfizer is granted approval, it is unlikely that this will be a vaccine that can be widely deployed because it requires storage at -70 degrees Celsius.
  • Given the limited capacity of even cold storage at -20 degrees Celsius as required by the Moderna vaccine, it is likely that India’s national immunisation system, and those of other low- and middle-income countries, will opt for vaccines that can be stored at the more widely available facilities that hold vaccines at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
  • Issues in India:
  • India does not have an adult immunisation programme beyond the tetanus/diphtheria vaccination for pregnant women. Hence, in the prioritisation lists that have been announced, identifying and reaching all priority groups will be a challenge. 
  • However, moving beyond health care workers and other essential workers, however defined, to the elderly and those with co-morbidities as indicated in official announcements will be difficult and there is a need to prepare for falsified documents and fraud.
  • India will have access to 1.6 billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021, there are significant challenges to getting these doses to where they are needed.
  • The WHO has six rights of supply-chain management for immunisation, which are right product, right quantity, right condition, right place, right time and right cost.
  • Making sure that all of these logistics are in place requires permutations of product packed volume, temperature for transport and storage, location of supply and delivery, cycle for vaccination and restocking.
  • Availability of refrigerated transport, security of transport, opportunities for pilferage and replacement with fake products are all very real concerns for which preparation is necessary.

What is needed:

  • The complexity of storage and supply in India will be managed by the National Cold Chain Vaccine Management Resource Centre and the electronic Vaccine Information Network, redeveloped as
  • To make it simple, India needs to train vaccinators, have additional supplies needed for immunisations, prepare for immunisation sessions and establish systems for waste disposal.
  • And all that, as we develop and use methods to identify and track individuals who need the vaccine.
  • Not all problems can be anticipated, but India has experience with strengthening immunisation and with the conduct of campaigns, particularly in the last decade.
  • While the government is using that experience to plan for a range of product, supply and logistic scenarios, sharing plans and developing the right partnerships is important, because in this enterprise, all of us are stakeholders.

Source: ” Hindustan Times”.

POSSIBLE UPSC MAINS EXAMINATION:

Identify the challenges in administering the COVID vaccine in India. What could be done to ensure smooth administration?