A group of public health experts, including doctors from AIIMS and members from the national taskforce on Covid-19, have said mass, indiscriminate and incomplete vaccination can trigger the emergence of mutant strains. The panel has also recommended that there is no need to inoculate those who have had coronavirus infection.
Vaccinating those vulnerable and at risk should be the aim at present, instead of inoculating mass population including children, said experts from Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and Indian Association of Epidemiologists in their latest report submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“The present situation of the pandemic in the country demands that we should be guided by the logistics and epidemiological data to prioritize vaccination rather than opening vaccination for all age groups at this stage,” the report said that has been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The experts in the report have further said that unplanned vaccination can promote mutant strains. “Given the rapid transmission of infection in various parts of the country” it is not sure that the mass vaccination of all the adults will catch up with the pace of the natural infection in the young adults.
“Opening all fronts simultaneously will drain human and other resources and would be spreading it too thin to make an impact at the population level,” the experts said in the report which has been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Evidence-based flexibility in vaccine schedules may need to be considered for areas or populations experiencing a surge on account for specific variants; for example, a reduced interval for the second dose of Covishield for areas with a surge due to the delta variant.
“Vaccine is a strong and powerful weapon against the novel coronavirus. And like all strong weapons, it should neither be withheld nor used indiscriminately, but should be employed strategically to derive maximum benefit in a cost-effective way,” they said.
While it makes perfect sense to vaccinate all adults, the reality is that the country is in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with limited availability of vaccines, the report said.
Experts also pointed out that the government has conducted genome sequencing of less than 1% of its positive samples. They added that India was also behind other high incidence countries in another crucial measure – sequencing per 1,000 Covid cases.
Efforts should be made to achieve a genome-sequencing target of at least 3%.
They wrote that genetic sequences have to be tracked to delineate virus transmission both across the community and in health care settings. “It can detect outbreaks that may otherwise be missed by traditional methods,” the report stated.
A total of 249,600,304 vaccine doses have been administered across the country and 121,311 recovered on Saturday, taking the death toll and recoveries to 367,081 and 27,911,384 respectively.