With Covid surging again, India must reactivate disease surveillance, vaccine supply chain
The Covid outbreak in China, US and Japan has prompted Centre to ask states to step up vigil. The visuals from China are indeed alarming and tragic. The country messed up its Covid strategy with the zero-Covid approach. But there’s no room for complacency in India. The Omicron variant of the virus may have run its course naturally through the Indian population and we may have got better vaccines than the Chinese had access to. But the moot point is that we haven’t done well in the booster programme and there’s no certainty what the impact of newer mutations will be.
Additionally, boosters don’t seem to be available at most hospitals anymore, suggesting that vaccine production has slowed down, because the offtake wasn’t encouraging. Bharat Biotech has appealed for inclusion of its intranasal vaccine in the Cowin portal since it has been approved for emergency use as a heterologous booster after passing safety and immunogenicity trials. This must be expedited so that citizens have access to another vaccine besides Covishield and Corbevax.
Countries like the US have also updated their vaccines for newer variants. Some countries have already approved a fifth shot of the vaccine. India may want to consider another precaution dose for those most at risk. With the economy back in full swing, we cannot afford another disruption. Centre must place bulk orders for booster doses right away.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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