Why will there be a third wave if people follow COVID appropriate behavior, asked the NITI Aayog member

NITI Aayog Member Dr V K Paul has said that fast vaccination is a key to normalcy and opening of economy in the country.

“We need to do our daily work, maintain our social life, open schools, businesses, take care of our economy; we will be able to do all this only when we are able to vaccinate at a fast pace,” Dr Paul in his interview with DD News on Monday.

According to him, India has administered nearly 81 lakh vaccine doses, on the first day when the revised guidelines for COVID vaccination came into force.

“All this was possible because of planning and coordination between Central and state government and taking up the task work in mission mode,” Dr Paul added, stating that a third wave can be stopped if COVID appropriate behaviour is followed and majority of people get vaccinated.

“Why will there be a third wave if we follow COVID Appropriate Behaviour and get ourselves vaccinated? There are many countries where even a second wave has not arrived; if we follow COVID appropriate behaviour, this period will pass,” the NITI Aayog member said.

He said it is a big mistake to think that Indian vaccines are unsafe. “All vaccines of the world have been approved under emergency use authorization, just like our vaccines. People from various sections of society have taken these,” the NITI Aayog member said.

“The second wave has now receded and it is the best time to take the COVID19 vaccine,” he added.

Dr. Paul also pointed out how our decision to vaccinate our health workers on priority has protected them during the second wave.

“Very few health care workers got infected, otherwise, our hospitals themselves would have collapsed during the second wave, so please be assured that people are being saved from infection due to the vaccine.”

On the other hand, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI) Chairperson, Dr. N. K. Arora said that the dosage achieved today is a big achievement.

“What we did today is a big achievement. Our aim is to vaccinate at least one crore people every day. Our capacity is such that we will easily be able to administer 1.25 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine every day.”

Dr. Arora said that this target is especially achievable in the wake of good support from the private sector and this was proved on the very first day when revised guidelines came into force.

Speaking how India has been successful in the past as well, Dr. Arora said: “This is not unprecedented. In one week, we give polio vaccines to around 17 crore children. So, when India decides to do something, we are able to achieve it.”

India's COVID-19 vaccination drive is becoming a prime example of how public and private sectors can join together to better address and solve problems faced by the nation, he added.

The NTAGI Chairperson emphasized the significance of people’s participation and public awareness in order to avoid rumours and misconceptions against vaccination. “Jan Bhagidari and Jan Jagran are very essential to eradicate the fear of vaccination. Ultimately it is in the hands of the public to come forward and get vaccinated”.

He also mentioned that preparations have been made for spreading awareness about vaccination and ASHA workers and frontline workers have already started working from grass root levels to fight vaccine hesitancy.

With regard to vaccine supply, he said there won’t be any issue regarding availability of vaccine. “We will have around 20 - 22 crore doses next month.” Dr. Arora also assured that the health infrastructure is well spread out to ensure that the vaccination drive reaches every corner of the country including hilly, tribal and very sparsely populated areas.

On interval in COVISHIELD vaccine doses, the Chairperson said that no need is felt at the moment to change the interval.

“We are collecting data under the National Vaccine Tracking System - and doing real-time evaluation regarding effectiveness of vaccines, dose interval, region-wise impact, variants; at present, no need is felt for changing dose interval of COVISHIELD. The basic principle is that our people should get the maximum benefit from every dose of the vaccine. We find that the current dosages are proving to be beneficial.” He added that at the same time, nothing is written in stone.