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‘When will I get my Covid-19 vaccine’ NewsFunda

MUMBAI: When will I get the Covid-19 vaccine? This is one question dogging everyone’s mind since India started its immunization campaign for health workers across the country on January 16. And the answer could be over five years, depending on certain parameters including your age, state you reside and category (non-priority group), based on the current pace of immunization.

Vaccinating India’s over 1.3 bn entire population at this stage with the two available vaccines, Serum Institute-manufactured Covishield and Covaxin, could run possibly for several years, according to a vaccine index developed by a group of researchers. The planned timelines are quite optimistic for the risk groups, with healthcare and frontline workers, expected to be vaccinated within half a year in most of the states.

However, “inoculating the whole population is a different thing, and if nothing changes in the near future, the time to achieve herd immunity may take even more than five years”, the researchers said.

The Indian Vaccine Queue Calculator, part of The Omni Calculator Project, has been designed by two Polish nationals, molecular physicist Dominik Czernia, a medical doctor Alexandra Zajac and Indian researcher Farhan Khan.

Interestingly, certain states including Maharashtra, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, vaccination of the third group (those 50 years older or less than 50 with comorbidities) may get completed over three to six years from now with the existing vaccination rates. (see chart)

Overall, according to the Vaccine Index, the challenge could be vaccinating those in the third group in the wake of the long timelines of upto five years or more, while vaccinations of the health and frontline workers in most states could be completed over the next six months.

The numbers may improve, centres will increase, vaccination rates per day would increase, and the timelines will drastically get better, Khan told TOI.

Public experts point out the situation is dynamic, with respect to the transmission rates, severity of its effects in different parts of India and availability of vaccines. “It would be imprudent to model several years into the future. It is possible that more vaccines may be available in a few months’ time if the completed trials report successful results. It is also possible that we may find very low rates of transmission and severe illness in some parts of India, especially in the rural areas of less developed states. They can be scheduled for later coverage, as we are focusing resources on priority groups and districts. I believe a clearer picture would emerge by May-June 2021”.

A mathematical model may be useful for forecasting, but contextual factors have to be accounted for, feels epidemiologist and public health researcher Dr GR Babu.

On Tuesday, India hit the 6-million mark of Covid-19 vaccinations. Despite being in the global top five in vaccines administered, India has a long way to go before it reaches herd immunity. Says Gagandeep Kang professor at Christian Medical College, Vellore: “We have to improve timelines. We should be looking at much greater community involvement, including the private sector”.

It seems Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan may manage to vaccine their entire health workers with two doses until March this year. The situation is different for Karnataka and Ladakh which should finish their first priority group vaccination until June (see chart).

The global response to a similar app for other countries has been “impressive’’. The UK index built in December has had over 15 million hits, according to Khan, while the Canadian and Mexican version has helped to answer over nine million people’s queries on the timelines for getting vaccinated.

News is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by Newsfunda

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