Editorial

Vaccine On Doesn’t Mean…The Virus Has Gone.

After elaborate dry runs, India joins a select group of countries today as the Prime Minister launches the rollout of the world’s largest coronavirus vaccination drive through video-conferencing. Three lakh frontline healthcare workers are expected to be covered at 3,006 sites across all states and UTs on the first day itself. The number of operational vaccination session sites is to be increased in a progressive manner. The full initial procurement of 1.65 crore doses of the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines has been flown across the country for the first phase, with a comprehensive factsheet and guidelines. Vaccines have been allotted to states and UTs based on their healthcare workers’ data; the cost will be borne by the Centre. A 24×7 call centre has been set up for all inoculation-related queries. The enormity of the project to vaccinate crores upon crores of people can weigh any administration down, but the success of the polio eradication programme and the nationwide conduct of elections prove that the country is capable of large-scale inoculation. Vaccine hesitancy and operational hiccups have already been factored in, but the key tasks would be countering misinformation and strengthening channels of communication. Amid the general atmosphere of optimism in India over commencement of the vaccination, there is growing global concern over the new coronavirus variant detected in South America. Like the variants first spotted in the UK and South Africa, it is thought that the Brazil variant could be more contagious. In Europe, strict restrictions are again in place in several countries as the pandemic continues to bare its fangs. This even as a World Health Organisation team has been allowed access to Wuhan by China in the hunt for clues to the origin of the pandemic, though there is a huge question mark over how much it will be able to achieve. As India begins a new chapter, the list of dos and don’ts essentially remains the same, and any laxity could have serious consequences. Just because a vaccine has arrived does not mean the virus has gone.

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