India to set up tracking platform to assess impact of Covid-19 vaccination programme
With only about four crore people fully vaccinated against Covid-19, India has decided to establish a tracking platform to assess the impact of its vaccination programme and evaluate the degree of protection when someone is fully or partially immunized.
"This is very important in India since around 17-18 crore people have received only one dose while around four crore people have received two doses," said N K Arora, chairman of India's Covid-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).
"We decided that India will establish a vaccine tracking platform to assess not only the impact of the vaccination programme but also to understand the efficacy of a different type of vaccine, their dosing intervals, and what happens when someone is fully or partially immunized. This is very important in India," he said.
Arora referred to a study by the Post Graduate Medical Research Institute in Chandigarh, which compared the effectiveness of partial versus full immnunization, and said "the study very clearly shows that vaccine effectiveness was 75 percent for both partially immunized and fully immunized."
"So, at least in the short run, effectiveness was similar whether you are partially or fully vaccinated. This was concerning the Alpha variant which had swept Punjab, northern India, and came to Delhi. This also meant that even if you received only one dose, still you are protected," according to Arora.
He said results of a study conducted by Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, which covers most of the current epidemic wave India experienced in April and May, shows if somebody is partially immunized, vaccine effectiveness of Covishield is 61 percent, and with two doses, the effectiveness is 65 percent.
Arora also quoted two separate studies which claim very little chance of getting infected by Covid-19 even if one receives just one vaccine dose, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Asked if there was any proposal to reduce the Covishield dosage gap, an issue that has sparked a controversy, Arora replied a decision will be taken scientifically, giving paramount importance to the health and protection of the community.
"Covid-19 and vaccination are very dynamic. Tomorrow, if the vaccine platform tells us that a narrower interval is better for our people, even if the benefit is 5-10 percent, the Committee will decide based on merit and its wisdom.
"On the other hand, if it turns out that the current decision is fine, we will continue with it," the official said.