Amid an acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, executive director of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) Suresh Jadhav on Friday alleged that the government began inoculating people from multiple age groups without taking into account the available stock of vaccines and the WHO guidelines. Speaking at an e-summit organised by Heal Health, a health advocacy and awareness platform, Jadhav said the country should have followed the WHO guidelines and prioritised vaccination accordingly.
Initially, 300 million people were to be administered the vaccine for which 600 million doses were required. But before we reached the target, the government opened vaccination for all above 45 years followed by those aged 18 and above despite "knowing well that so much vaccine is not available", Jadhav said. "That is the greatest lesson we learnt. We must take into account the availability of the product and then use it judiciously," added Jadhav.
Jadhav stressed that vaccination is essential but even after getting jabbed, people are susceptible to the infection. "Therefore, be cautious and follow COVID preventive guidelines. Although the double mutant of Indian variants are neutralised, yet variants can create problems in vaccination," he said. "As far as the selection of vaccine is concerned, as per CDC and NIH data, whatever vaccine is available can be taken provided it is licensed by the regulatory body. And it is too early to say which vaccine is efficacious and which is not, he added.
India is currently facing a severe shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, due to which the inoculation drive for the 18-44 age group has been stalled in many states. Karnataka recently announced that vaccination for this age group would resume from May 22, but only for certain groups. These include close family members of health workers, teachers assigned to COVID-19 duty, auto and cab drivers, government transport personnel, street vendors and media personnel, among others.