The list has four categories — around 50-70 lakh healthcare professionals, over two 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.
(This story originally appeared inon Oct 17, 2020)NEW DELHI: As the world prepares for a vaccine against Covid-19, India has started identifying around 30 crore priority beneficiaries, including 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.
The shots, which include the booster dose, are planned for the initial phase once a vaccine is approved for use. The list has four categories — around 50-70 lakh healthcare professionals, over two 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 3 and Pune-based Serum Institute is conducting trials in India. The government recently said its Phase 3 data will be available around November-end or early December.
The draft of the implementation plan drawn by the national expert group on vaccine administration for Covid-19 has worked on inputs received by central agencies and the states. The group, headed by Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul and co-chaired by health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, has studied allocations for early-phase vaccinations proposed by the CDC, Atlanta and the WHO while charting 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.
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 and 10 lakh ASHA workers. The list includes 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 told TOI.
The draft plan also 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. Besides, 1.5 crore municipal workers and frontline teams involved in community services, like public transport drivers, cleaners and teachers, have also 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 is 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 storage facility, geotag health centres, and maintain facility-level dashboard for delivery across India.