High on hopes of a Covid-19 vaccine becoming available early in the new year, the Centre on Thursday urged all States to do a dry run on Saturday to test the preparedness to roll out the massive vaccination exercise across the country.
The drill, the second within a week, is also significant because the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) is expected to take a call on giving emergency use approval to front-running vaccine candidates — Covishield from the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin from the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech — in the next few days. The first dry run was restricted to four States — Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab.
The decision to do a countrywide dry run was taken at a meeting of Health Secretaries and other health officials of States and Union Territories convened by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, a statement said.
While most States will carry out the drill in three or more sessions in their capitals, some will choose difficult terrains and areas of poor connectivity. Kerala and Maharashtra plan to focus on major cities apart from their capitals.
In each of the sessions, 25 healthcare workers will participate as recipients and their data will be captured on the Co-Win platform, an electronic intelligence network set up for the mammoth Covid-19 vaccination drive, which will first cater to 30 crore healthcare and frontline workers besides vulnerable sections identified as priority groups.
As the country gets closer to the vaccine rollout, the Health Ministry also released an 88-page document detailing how information about Covid-19 vaccine can be circulated among people. It seeks to disseminate timely, accurate and transparent information about the vaccine(s) to alleviate apprehensions, ensure acceptance and encourage uptake of the vaccine.
Apart from social and mass media, the government plans to use community groups, school managements, NSS and Scouts and Guides for taking the message across to the people.
100 m doses by first week
Various vaccine-makers participated in a webinar to give updates on their candidates. The Pune-based Serum Institute, which is making the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine in India, said it will stockpile 100 million doses by January first week, though it was yet to get the green signal for a rollout. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was approved for emergency use in the UK on Wednesday.