Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the government of India never said it would vaccinate the entire country. In a recent press conference held, Bhushan was asked how long it will take to vaccinate the entire country against the coronavirus. Bhushan responded by saying, “I just want to make this clear that the government has never spoken about vaccinating the entire country.” This means that only those on the priority list will be vaccinated.
This can mean only a few crore people who need it (read: health workers, elderly, etc.) will be vaccinated first, according to a CNN News18 news broadcast. Healthy people who can afford it will have to wait till the vaccines are available for commercial use and buy it off the shelf from pharmacies or get it from a hospital.
While we might think anti-vaxxer is just a western phenomenon, a recent conversation with Anant Bhan, a researcher in global health, bioethics, and health policy, told us otherwise. With that in mind, the government has given such people who are part of the priority list but do not want to be vaccinated for whatever reason to opt-out of receiving the vaccine.
According to other news reports, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also made a similar statement when he said that up to 30 crore Indians would be inoculated against COVID-19 by August 2021, according to the central government’s plans.
He was distributing masks and soaps at the Old Delhi Railway Station when he said that “In the first 3-4 months of next year, there is a possibility we will be able to provide vaccine to the people of the country.”
“By July-August, we have a plan to provide vaccines to around 25-30 crore people, and we are preparing accordingly,” NDTV reported Vardhan told reporters.
Bhushan also that it is necessary to get all the facts first before talks begin when it comes to matters regarding science.
ICMR chief Dr. Balram Bhargava added that while not everyone will get the vaccine, they will vaccinate enough people to break the virus’s chain of transmission.
“We may or may not need to vaccinate all. If we can reach a critical mass before doing so, then it is not required. That is why measures like masks, etc., will need to continue (even after the vaccination).”
According to a report by The Print, a critical mass refers to when there are enough people in the population who have received the vaccine for the chain of transmission to be broken. This is called herd immunity.
Another thing that Bhargava spoke about is whether people who have already been infected and theoretically have antibodies will get the vaccine.
He said that no decision has yet been taken on whether the vaccine will be given to people who have already recovered from the disease. It is being discussed by the National Expert Group of Vaccine Administration for Covid.