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Opinion

Amid vaccine trials, states say connectivity is biggest obstacle

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Two weeks after the Covid-19 vaccination tests, state health officials said their biggest challenge was not crowd management, vaccine storage or transportation, but updating data on mock vaccines on the CoWIN mobile app. (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) of the Union Ministry of Health due to the irregularity of Internet connectivity.

After eight districts in four states conducted the first trial on December 28 and 29, a nationwide trial was conducted one day before the national drug controller approved two vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid- 19) on January 3.

Another mass immunization trial across India will take place in all districts during Thursday and Friday.

Earlier this week, the Union’s health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, told a news conference that the actual vaccination campaign would take place around 10 days after regulatory approvals. Based on that, the mass immunization with the approved vaccines is expected to take place around January 13.

However, the lack of a proper internet connection can complicate things.

The Center has mandated that the details of all people receiving the vaccine be uploaded to the CoWIN app after they have been verified and approved. The application updates the information in real time and any failure in the process means that the vaccine will not be launched.

“We faced connectivity problems in certain places so the time required to administer the vaccine was very high,” said a UP government official who did not want to be identified.

The state conducted a trial Tuesday at six sites across 74 districts (12 in the state capital) to assess readiness to administer the coronavirus disease vaccine.

Goa Health Secretary Amit Satija admitted Wednesday that connectivity issues affected the drill that took place in the state on January 2.

Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Om Prakash said another test will be carried out in 10 booths in each district on January 8. “Internet connectivity must be guaranteed at vaccination sites and awareness will be raised about the test as it is done for elections,” he said. .

In Bihar, the district administration also faced a sudden wave of health workers who thought the actual vaccine was being administered. “They returned after being convinced that it was just a trial and would be informed by SMS about the actual vaccination,” said a government official who did not want to be named.

State health departments are also required to record the time needed to transport the vaccine from central office to district headquarters and then to designated health centers for the vaccination campaign.

An evaluation by the Bihar health department found that many assistant nurse midwives (ANM), who were participating in the vaccination program, did not know how to handle the smartphones or tablets from which they were provided to upload data.

“Our district immunization officers will now train ANMs to upload the data,” said Manoj Kumar, executive director of the Bihar Health Society and also nodal officer of the vaccination program in Bihar.

Officials in states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab and Haryana said they did not face any major problems during the first trial conducted earlier this week. .

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