With a decision on approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine likely to come by the end of this week, the Centre on Thursday directed all states and UTs to conduct a dry run for vaccination on January 2. The dry run will be conducted in a bid to test and rehearse the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges. The activity is proposed to be conducted in all state capitals in at least 3 session sites.
States will include districts that are have a challenging topography and have poor logistical support while Maharashtra and Kerala are expected to schedule the dry run in major cities other than their capital, the Union Health Ministry said.
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“The objective of the dry run for Covid-19 vaccine introduction is to assess operational feasibility in the use of Co-WIN application in field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide way forward prior to actual implementation. This is also expected to give confidence to programme managers at various levels,” the Health Ministry was quoted as saying by PTI.
The development comes a day after the subject expert committee (SEC) of the Indian drug regulator held a meeting on Wednesday to deliberate upon a request from Serum Institute of India for approval of the Oxford vaccine (named Covishield) in India under emergency circumstances.
The SEC was unable to come to a decision on the matter by Wednesday evening, and has decided to reconvene in the new year. Sources close to the development told The Indian Express that the SEC has sought additional information from the companies related to their candidates. The United Kingdom drug regulator cleared the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use on Wednesday.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness at session sites for Covid-19 vaccination, with principal secretaries (Health) and other health administrators of all states and UTs through video-conferencing. Regarding the dry run to be held, for each of the three session sites, the Medical Officer In-charge will identify 25 test beneficiaries (healthcare workers).
The states and UTs have been asked to ensure physical verification of all proposed sites for adequacy of space, logistical arrangements, internet connectivity, electricity, safety, etc. and prepare at least three model session sites in each state (at state capital) for demonstration.
They have been asked to ensure that the model sites have separate entry and exit in a ‘three-room set-up’ with adequate space outside for awareness generation activities, display all IEC material at these sites and ensure that all SOPs and protocols are being practiced at the identified sites in an ideal environment along with vaccination teams to be identified and trained in all aspects.
The first round of the dry run was conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Punjab on 28-29 December in two districts each where five session sites with 25 beneficiaries each were identified. No major issues were observed in the operational aspects during this dry run.
With 21,822 new cases of coronavirus infections detected on Wednesday, the tally now stands at 1,02,66,674. As many as 299 deaths were reported on Wednesday. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 98.60 lakh pushing the national recovery rate over 96 per cent.
Also, the Health Ministry has asked all states to keep a strict vigil on New Year celebrations that could be potential Covid-19 super-spreader events and also to curb crowding as a precautionary measure during the winter season, PTI reported.
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