Topic : Developments in S&T
Qn. “Examine the steps taken by the Government agencies across the World to make the COVID -19 vaccine accessible to all. What in your opinion should be the recipient prioritization strategy to be adopted by India in its efforts to combat COVID-19” (250 words )
Why this Question ?
Various organizations and alliances across the world have been in the race to develop an effective vaccine against the COVID-19. Concerns have been raised regarding the accessibility of such a vaccine to all sections of the society.
The first part of the question is very straightforward as it has to factually bring out the different steps taken across the world by different government agencies to make the COVID-19 vaccine accessible.
The second part of the Question is a personal opinion on the strategy that should be followed by the government to prioritize which sections of the society needs to be vaccinated first and so on.
Since it is a 250 word answer, an apt introduction to the question could be to the length of about 40-50 words.
The introduction can be common and can address both the aspects of the question since both the aspects are inter related.
The introduction for the question could be:
“COVID-19 has caused huge loss of life across the globe with more than a million people succumbing to it. Even though the previous efforts in developing a effective, safe and easily administrable vaccine has not been successful, various agencies – both public and private across the globe have developed vaccines that are in different stages of development. As the phase 3 clinical trials proceed, questions have been raised with respect to the access and prioritization strategies of different governments.”
Efforts taken by Government agencies :-
The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator was launched in April by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic. ACT brings together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
The COVID Vaccine (COVAX) is focussed on the vaccination part. It is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
Indian Government has also launched its COVIN app that would be used as the mechanism to co-ordinate the vaccine delivery program.The Covin App developed by the Centre will be a key part of India’s vaccine rollout as it will streamline data on Covid-19 vaccine procurement, distribution, circulation, storage and dose schedules besides also notifying the first set of vaccine recipients when their shots have been scheduled.
The app will enable authorities right down to the grassroots level to upload and access data on a real time basis and provide updates to those on the priority list on when their shots are scheduled and who will administer them. The app relies on technology to synthesise data from states and the Centre, including agencies like ICMR, health ministry and Ayushman Bharat.
What can be the Indian Government’s recipient prioritization strategy ?
Indian Government has already identified four priority population groups have been identified for the vaccine, which include – health workers, front-line workers, people aged above 50 years and those with co-morbidities.
As the vaccine availability slowly gets strengthened, it would be better for the Government to expand the recipients to also include school going children as well as other sections of the society. It should be the priority of the Government to ensure that the vulnerable sections of the population (slum dwellers, migrants, SC’s & ST’s) are not excluded from having access to the COVID-19 vaccine by allowing market to completely determine the pricing of the vaccine.
Though it is not necessary that everyone should be vaccinated for the pandemic to end, it should be borne in mind that having a robust recipient prioritization policy that is transparent can help the government in enabling access to COVID-19 vaccine to all sections of the society. Even if 60% of the population can be vaccinated against the virus, it can be a moment of triumph for the government in its fight against the virus.