Reviewing the COVID-19 situation and the vaccine preparedness in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that access to vaccines should be ensured efficiently once they are ready, considering the geographical span and diversity of India.
Highlighting the steady decline in the daily positive cases of COVID-19 and growth rate, PM Modi stressed that every step in the logistics, delivery, and administration of the vaccine should be carried out rigorously
According to a release from the Prime Minister's Office, three vaccines are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which two are in Phase II and one is in Phase-III of the advanced stage. It also said that Indian scientists and research teams are collaborating to strengthen the research capacities in neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. There have been requests from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Qatar and Bhutan for conducting clinical trials of these vaccines in their countries.
"The Prime Minister directed that keeping in view the geographical span and diversity of the country, the access to the vaccine should be ensured speedily. The Prime Minister stressed that every step in the logistics, delivery, and administration should be put in place rigorously," the release said.
It also stresses on the advanced planning of cold storage chains, distribution network, monitoring mechanism, advance assessment, and preparation of ancillary equipment required, such as vials and syringes. Two nationwide studies on the Genome of COVID-19 virus conducted by ICMR and the Department of Bio-Technology (DBT) suggest that the virus is genetically stable and there is no major mutation in the disease.
PM Modi said that the country should use the experience of successful conduct of elections and disaster management during vaccine distribution. He said that vaccine delivery and administration systems should operate in a similar manner, involving the participation of States, UTs and district-level functionaries, civil society organisations, volunteers, citizens and experts from all necessary domains. The entire distribution process should be backed by a strong IT system and should be designed to have a lasting value to our healthcare system, the release said.
PM Modi directed that the country "should not limit efforts to our immediate neighbourhood but also reach out to the entire world in providing vaccines, medicines and IT platforms for vaccine delivery system."
He cautioned against complacency at the decline in COVID-19 cases and stressed on keeping up the efforts to contain the pandemic. He insisted citizens to continue social distancing, adhere to Coronavirus protocols such as wearing the mask, regularly washing hands, and sanitation especially amid the ongoing festive season.
The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in consultation with state governments and all relevant stakeholders has prepared and presented a detailed blueprint of vaccine storage, distribution, and administration. The Expert Group is working actively on vaccine prioritisation and distribution of the vaccine. The meeting was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Principal Secretary to PM, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, Principal Scientific Advisor, senior Scientists, officers of PMO and other departments of the central government.