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Public Health Expert Recommends New Covid-19 Vaccine Strategy for India | India News

WASHINGTON: As India experiences a new wave of Covid-19 pandemic, a public health expert from India has called for a “build, buy and apply” strategy to be adopted for mass vaccination to handle the crisis alongside enforcement. appropriate behaviors and ongoing communication from physicians, political leaders, and the administration.
“We are witnessing a dire resurgence of the pandemic in India, where it was perceived, just a few months ago, that it was essentially over. Unfortunately, it lurked in the population and responded strongly when we let our guard down, ”Indian official Dr. Mrinalini Darswal, who is currently pursuing a PhD in public health with a focus on Covid-19 at Harvard University, told PTI.
It can be attributed in part to pandemic fatigue in a population that depends on hard work for a living and for whom waiting for the crisis to pass for a prolonged period is not an option. However, the main reason appears to be immune evasion and highly infectious mutants, he said.
Darswal, an IAS officer from the 2002 Odisha cadre, served as Special Secretary for Health; Commissioner of Food Safety; Drug Controller and Project Director for the HIV / AIDS Control Program for the Delhi government.
Darswal, who recently earned a master’s degree in economics at the University of Texas at Austin, argued that this virus is more elusive and unpredictable than viruses that have been treated before, such as the flu and HIV. As such, vaccination is unlikely to be a successful strategy in isolation.
With the current vaccination rate, it would take two years to cover 75 percent of the Indian population, he said, adding that to return to normal, it is necessary to increase the speed and coverage of the population.
“As our goal is to achieve the goal of full coverage, we need to move strategically,” said Darswal and called for the potential new strategy “build, buy and jab.”
“Build: We did exceptionally well in rolling out indigenous vaccines like Covaxin using our expertise and earning Covishield priority allocation from the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. Given the large number of people we need to vaccinate, the number is below the requirement, “he said.
There are at least two major concerns with this gap, Darswal said. First: the transmission of the virus is not suppressed enough for us to return to normality. Second: the transmission “to and from” of infection from the unvaccinated to the vaccinated population gives the virus a large laboratory to learn to evade the immune response and develop into more virulent forms.
“That means we need to create frequently modified vaccines, and the goal of achieving transmission control through herd immunity will extend indefinitely.
“Therefore, other developments, trials and emergency use authorizations (EUA) of indigenous vaccines must be accelerated. The government must be aware of the shortage of raw materials faced by the SII in the production of the Novavax vaccine due to the embargo on the export of bags and filters imposed by the Biden administration under the Defense Production Law, ”he said.
The production of other things like gloves, coolers, syringes, among others, also needs full evaluation, regulatory ease, and long-term supervision.
Noting that it is possible to meet all the requirements for vaccines at home, but it would take a long time, Darswal said using India’s pharmaceutical manufacturing power to obtain licenses for new manufacturing and distribution of vaccines such as mRNA vaccines it is something you can seriously consider.
And finally, India needs to replicate the Bhutan model in thousands of places using a Primary Health Care (PHC) as a focal point. Using vaccines given away by India, Bhutan vaccinated its entire population in two weeks.
Vaccine coverage must be provided in workplaces such as factories, large markets through market associations, among others, to ensure that workers are vaccinated. Their security will prevent mass migration as seen during the first lockdown, keep them safe and increase the overall immunity of communities, he said.
“Even with a low attributable death rate, given that many people are becoming infected in this new wave, the sheer count we can face can be staggering and spread panic among people. Ongoing communication from physicians, political leaders and administrators is essential to calm feelings at this critical time, ”said Darswal, who was a physician before becoming an IAS officer.
These measures need to be reinforced by strong regulation imposing mandatory appropriate Covid behaviors such as wearing universal masks, banning activities where people can gather and form crowds, and mandatory maintenance of social distance when out and about. Only by being vigilant and responsible can we hope to minimize the damage from the current wave and take quick steps to defeat the pandemic for good, “he said.
According to data from the Union Health Ministry updated on Wednesday, the single-day increase in new coronavirus infections edged a little closer to 3 lakh, bringing India’s total Covid-19 case count. to 1,56,16,130, while the death toll rose to 1,82,553. with a record of 2,023 daily deaths.
A total of 2.95,041 recent infections were recorded in a 24-hour span, while active cases crossed the 21 lakh mark, he said.

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