Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare released two reports of the Institute for Competitiveness (part of the global network of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness and affiliated to Harvard Business School), here today. These reports titled ‘COVID-19-India’s Vaccine Development Story’ and ‘India’s COVID – 19 Vaccination Administration Journey’ highlight the crucial aspects that have contributed to the success of India’s COVID-19 vaccine development and administration efforts, which includes manufacturing of indigenous vaccines, sturdy and timely procedures and protocols for approvals that ensured the safe administration of vaccinations. The reports have compiled significant crucial information and experiences that can serve as learning for future pandemic management and public health issues.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya said, “I am delighted to launch this rigorous documentation of the massive efforts that have been undertaken by India, as the world’s largest vaccination drive. India’s scientific capacity demonstrated by the development of many indigenous vaccines, which have been approved by the WHO; our ability to trace, test, treat and contain the infection spread through a strong surveillance network; the solidarity displayed by our healthcare professionals, frontline workers and citizens, under the visionary leadership of Hon. Prime Minister coupled with collaboration with states and other ministries, have made the COVID-19 vaccination drive successful.”
The reports acknowledge the significant challenges faced by the Indian government, of delivering and administering vaccines to a majority of 1.3 billion people of India who were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines; working with the state governments to ensure free and equitable distribution and effective management of vaccine eagerness along with addressing vaccine hesitancy that was prevalent in certain pockets of the country. They also appreciate the massive efforts considering the size and heterogeneity of a country like India. The phased approach of India’s vaccination programme, prioritizing populations of those who were in greatest need, including the healthcare professionals, frontline workers, elders, and those with morbidities, have been highlighted as exemplars in these reports.
The reports also identify efforts towards training and skilling of healthcare professionals to manage adverse events during vaccination; digital scheduling of vaccination sessions and certification post-vaccination through the CoWin digital platform as global best practices that other countries can learn from India. The measures taken to ensure social distancing and efforts of all stakeholders and partners have been recognized. The documents also study the quality of vaccination sessions; cold-chain infrastructure and logistics performance, and real-time monitoring and feedback through control rooms that were set at national and sub-national levels all for smooth management of the vaccination process.
Reaffirming India’s success being embedded in science, Dr. Michael Green, CEO, Social Progress Imperative appreciated India’s response on every front. He asserted that, “The vaccine is the most effective measure against the pandemic, and being preventive in nature, it has given hope and assurance to humanity in general that the spread of the pandemic can be arrested and the patients cured. Though the unprecedented calamity emanated due to a globally spread pandemic disrupted the normal way of living and resulted in the loss of many lives, yet on the flip side, it has also spurred among humans a stronger sense of determination and willingness to combat the pandemic with complete resilience. It is encouraging to see India’s response in every front from vaccine manufacturing, distribution, and resilience demonstrated by its citizens”.
Highlighting the crucial role played by technology during the pandemic, Dr Mark Esposito, Harvard University stated that India, despite having such diversity, not only addressed the national crisis but also generated the blueprint for the world to innovatively use technology to deal with the future public health crisis. Noting some of the unique initiatives of India, he further added, “The introduction of e-governance mobile app for real-time tracking and control of corona cases, indigenized manufacturing of PPE kits at par with WHO global standards and localized manufacturing of testing swabs were a tremendous effort by the Government of India to combat the pandemic situation. The adoption of mobile apps like Co-WIN and Aarogya Setu drove the innovation environment in the country. It offered credible promise by increasing productivity and saving time for the beneficiaries. It has also eliminated the uncertainty for the citizens of not getting vaccinated.”
Dr Amit Kapoor, Chair, Institute for Competitiveness appreciated India’s unique characteristic of blending science with culture and building solidarity in its communication strategy to remove vaccine hesitancy. He stated, “Online training ecosystem for the workforce on the ground during vaccine administration and last-mile enablers in charge of bringing about behavioural change toward vaccination through communication and mass mobilisation initiatives, was critical to the success of the vaccination initiative. Additionally, a Rapid Immunization Skill Enhancement (RISE), knowledge and skill-building package for India’s Universal Immunization Program, delivery, logistics and operational coordination were developed. Thus, a comprehensive communication strategy guided the stakeholders in managing the information flow regarding vaccines.”