The Government of India has started identifying around 30 crore priority beneficiaries of the first anti-coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine the scientists can develop and make ready for the people. These people comprise high-risk population and first responders — from healthcare workers to police, sanitation workers as well as the elderly and people with co-morbidities — who will likely receive an estimated 60 crore vaccine doses.
These shots, including that of the booster dose, are for the initial phase once a vaccine is approved for use. The list has four categories —
- around 50-70 lakh healthcare professionals
- over 2 crore frontline workers, including police, municipal workers and armed forces
- about 26 crore persons above 50 years of age and
- another set aged less than 50 but with co-morbidities
Currently, there are three vaccine candidates undergoing human trials in India. Of these, the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate is in the most advanced stage in Phase III and Pune-based Serum Institute is conducting trials in India. The government recently said that its Phase III data would be available either in November-end or early December.
The national expert group on vaccine administration for Covid-19 has drawn a draft of the implementation plan. It has worked on inputs that the central agencies and the states have received.
The group, headed by Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul and co-chaired by health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, has studied allocations for early-phase vaccinations proposed by the CDC, Atlanta, and the WHO. They have charted India’s framework for equitable and need-based access.
The plan aims to cover over 23% of the population in the first phase and was discussed in a meeting of the group of ministers on Covid-19 headed by Union health minister Harsh Vardhan earlier this week.
600 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines needed
According to the draft plan, the experts’ committee has estimated a 70-lakh healthcare workforce from the government as well as private sector. This includes
- 11 lakh MBBS doctors and 8 lakh Ayush practitioners
- 15 lakh nurses
- 7 lakh ANMs
- 10 lakh ASHA workers
- 7-8 lakh allied healthcare professionals and others like sanitation workers, ambulance workers and hospital security
“We are in the process of identifying these beneficiaries and the final list will be ready by October-end or early November,” an official said.
The draft plan further includes over 2 crore frontline workers, including 45 lakh police and related forces at the central and state levels along with home guards and 15 lakh people from the armed forces. Moreover, 1.5 crore municipal workers and frontline teams involved in community services, like public transport drivers, cleaners and teachers, have been identified.
An estimated 26 crore people are over 50 years of age and younger persons with conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, chronic kidney failure, lung disease, cancer and liver diseases are also being identified to receive the vaccine on priority.
“Considering the overlaps in certain categories, we have estimated that a total of 550-600 million doses of the vaccine will be required initially for the priority population,” an official said.
Public health experts said the move was timely, even as they seek the plan to be made public for consultation. “The government must put out the allocation framework criterion in the public domain to ensure there is transparency. There is enough time for consultation on the matter,” says Anant Bhan, a researcher in global health, bioethics and health policy.
The proposal also includes a plan to track the latest vaccine stock position, temperature at a storage facility, geotag health centres and maintain facility-level dashboard for delivery across India.