By Tapas Parida and Shambhavi Sharma
What are the various scenarios for vaccinating India’s entire adult population?
Beginning now India needs 143 crore of vaccine shots to fully cover – that is, two shots for everyone – its adult population. If we vaccinate every day of the week, and 80 lakh people daily from here on, the entire adult population will be covered by December 2021. At 50 lakh jabs per day, full coverage will happen at the end of 2021-22, that is, March 2022. A breathtaking 1 crore per day rate will cover India as soon as October. (See tables 1 and 2)
What about vaccine availability?
Total estimated production availability of indigenous vaccines as per government is 91% of required doses to vaccinate India’s adult population. Latest estimates show more than 1.92 crore Covid vaccine doses are still available with states/UTs to be administered and around 39,07,310 vaccine doses are in the pipeline.
How much time will it take to reach herd immunity? Based on different countries’ experience, can it be said that some of them have already reached herd immunity?
Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection. For diseases like measles and polio the herd immunity is achieved at 95% and 80% threshold, respectively. For coronavirus, many experts agree with 70% of the population either getting vaccinated or infected to achieve so-called herd immunity. Malta was the first European Union country to achieve herd immunity after vaccinating 70% of its adult population with at least one shot, in May. At 50 lakh jabs per day, India could vaccinate 70% of its adult population by mid-September, with at least one dose.
What is the vaccination trend in other countries?
India is 17% of world population. Ten major states of India are 12% of world population. Smaller and richer countries definitely have fared better in terms of vaccination, as they had to distribute their substantial resources among a small population. However, if we look at macro data, India is already among the top three countries in the world in terms of total vaccination. As on June 22, 2021, total vaccination in China was 104.9 crore, while for the US it was 31.8 crore and for India it was 29.4 crore.
When can a third wave come?
This is very difficult to predict. International experiences suggest that the third wave is usually less fatal, but the number of cases might still be higher. Based on the cross-country data, the third wave starts on an average 40 days from the lowest level of the second wave, and the duration of a third wave is around 90 days. However, if we are able to vaccinate even at the pace of 50 lakh jabs per day, we may even escape the wrath of a potential third wave.
How can India open up again?
Vaccination is the key. Also, government strategy towards reinforcing Covid-appropriate behaviour through public service announcements cannot go lax. Keeping risks alive in the minds of people will be very important, so that the economy remains open going ahead. Prolonged lockdowns achieve nothing worthwhile but create distress across the working population.
What about children?
Vaccine trials for children are already on. The good news is that serological surveys show that the seropositivity is not substantially different between adults and children. Thus, children are unlikely to be more impacted.
Emil Augustine contributed to the research
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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