As India crossed the landmark of administering 75 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses, Dr VK Paul, member of Niti Aayog and head of Covid task force, hailed country’s vaccination drive, saying that India is well on its path to achieving complete vaccination of the entire adult population by year-end.
He, however, replied in the affirmative when asked about consistency being the key to this.
VK Paul said that vaccine hesitancy is not an issue anymore, but making vaccines reach everyone is. There is “vaccine eagerness,” he said.
ON BOOSTER DOSES
Dr VK Paul also said that just yet there is little data available on boosters and that Covaxin is undertaking a study to see the need for the same. “The WHO has also not said anything on the need for it and right now our focus should be on vaccinating everyone with two doses,” he said.
COVAXIN APPROVAL FOR EUL BY SEPTEMBER-END
Dr VK Paul said that Covaxin’s data looked promising and that the vaccine could soon be approved for emergency use listing (EUL) by the World Health Organisation (WHO). EUL is a procedure to streamline the process in which new products can be approved and used during public health emergencies like a pandemic. Sources within Bharat Biotech, the company that has developed Covaxin, have also said that they expect the approval to come by “month-end” and that “all queries have been answered”.
KIDS AND THIRD WAVE
Paul also said that it was difficult to predict a third wave but past trends had shown a surge in cases post the festive season. “Even earlier it was seen that cases increased after parties, get-togethers during the festive season, the virus loves parties. We have to squeeze it,” he said.
He also added that various mathematical projections said there would be a third wave, but there was no mutation of the Delta variant to contribute to a third wave. “AY.4 [a sublineage of the Delta variants] is a mutation but we do not believe it is more deadly than Delta,” he said.
He also refuted statements made in the past about India’s poor preparedness when it comes to health infrastructure for children, saying the government has been preparing for the same.
He also backed reopening of schools for children in areas with low infection rates and said that one of the boxes of “high vaccination rates for teachers has been ticked”.
“Children need to be around adults who are vaccinated and that is the best antidote,” he said.
He also added that in states like Kerala, more children were getting affected but the mortality is less than last year’s. This, he said, was being seen in other states as well. “Children are moving around more and there is more testing and this could be one of the reasons for more cases being diagnosed in kids,” he said.
VK Paul said that the conversation was on going and that indemnity and other contractual obligations were holding up the entry of these vaccines. He refused to elaborate on this further.