COVID-19 Vaccines and India’s Fight Against the Pandemic

As the world fights off the global pandemic, the country of India has also seen its fair share of struggles against COVID-19. The sheer size of the country and its population has created certain unique challenges in responding to the virus outbreak consequence. As the Indian government works hard to manage the crisis and keep the population safe, much work is being done to develop and administer safe and effective vaccines. On the 23rd of January in the year 2021, India launched its nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign in one of its biggest achievements in terms of public health responses to the pandemic.

What is India’s National Vaccination Programme?

India’s national COVID-19 vaccine campaign, called Co-WIN, has a primary focus on providing two specialized vaccines to its citizens in a bid to help reduce severe symptoms during the pandemic, while also protecting those most vulnerable populations at risk. Primarily, the program aims to vaccinate 1.3 billion citizens of the country, starting with healthcare workers and frontline workers, followed by other groups of priority.

The national vaccination program has been designed as part of an integrated approach geared towards responding to the needs of each and every state in the country. It is focused on increasing access to the vaccines, coordinating resources for distribution, strengthening the supply chain network, providing logistical and financial support, and providing information and support for people who have recently received the vaccine.

Using Technology for Vaccine Delivery

The Indian government has also implemented an effective technology-based infrastructure in order to track and deliver the vaccine to citizens. A mobile app has been developed by the government called Co-WIN, which allows citizens to register themselves to receive the vaccine. This digital tracking system also keeps track of each person’s immunization status, in order to ensure streamlined, safe and efficient distribution.

Co-WIN uses a mix of four modules, namely, administrator module, registration module, appointment module, and vaccination module. By using these modules, the government has been able to automate registration, appointment scheduling, and vaccine tracking on an individual level. It is also equipped with real-time analytics, which enables healthcare workers to track the status of the vaccine, and take proactive steps when the vaccine stock starts to decline.

The Co-Win app is establishing a strong presence not just in the country’s urban spaces, but in its rural areas too, by identifying and reaching out to remote locations and ensuring vaccine delivery is conducted safely and efficiently. To make this exercise task simpler, the app’s location-based technology requires only minimal data input from both the individual and the administering healthcare center. Furthermore, this helps scheduling appointments in remote areas, and also informs the vaccine centers when the next batch needs to be requested to maintain the vaccine availability.

Indian Vaccines and Efficacy

Two indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccines are currently being used in the vaccination program. The first is Covishield, developed by the Serum Institute of India, based on AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 vaccine. The other is Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Each of these vaccines has been approved by India’s drug regulator through Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) after a thorough review process.

Covishield is the first vaccine to receive approval in India and the world. It has been seen that the vaccine gives 80% protection against the virus three weeks after getting vaccinated. Authorities commend the fact that this vaccine is helping especially protect vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. Covaxin, on the other hand, has been developed in India, and offers an efficacy rate of 81%. It also protects from developing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19.

The Benefits of Indian VaccinesJump-starting the Indian economy was a major motivation for developing vaccines within the country. However, Indian vaccines come with a set of other benefits that make the government’s mission a success.

Firstly, at the time of this writing, India is producing more than 60 million doses per month of the two vaccines and is expected to maintain this rate over the months. This implies that a larger part of the population can be vaccinated quickly and securely, allowing India to return back to normalcy soon.

Secondly, Indian vaccines are reliable and trustworthy. Both Covishield and Covaxin have been tested extensively and are of the same quality and efficacy as those developed by other countries.

Thirdly, these vaccines have better shelf life at specific conditions, and can be stored at normal temperatures, unlike the Western vaccines. Thus, these vaccines can easily be transported and distributed even in the remote parts of the country.

Finally, the vaccines cost significantly lesser than those developed abroad, thus making it among the most affordable vaccines in the world.

India’s national vaccination programme is bringing the country closer to the end of the pandemic. The integrated, technology-driven view of the program has enabled the government to track, deliver and coordinate resources across the nation. The efficacy of indigenous vaccines has enabled to the government to bring about a sense of assurance and hope among its citizens, even in the remote parts of the country. While India continues to fight the pandemic, it is indeed the vaccine that stands to save the country and the world as a whole.