Safety of corona vaccine of paramount importance

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 As we enter the month of December, 2020, and the coronavirus has been with us in India for some ten months now, it seems that we are in the last lap and it is only a question of time, just a few more months, for human beings to prevail over the virus.

There is a stream of news about the imminent availability of vaccines that protect against Covid-19 to the extent of 90 percent. Any protection from the virus in terms of providing immunity is welcome since it brings us that much closer to creating a vaccine-generated herd immunity, which will stop the spread of the virus, facilitating its end.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to infect more and more people, and is indeed meeting some difficulty in infecting more people, since a degree of herd immunity is setting in, especially in urban localities that have seen a spate of infections.

When we look at the all-India picture, the tests across the country are now yielding less than 50,000 cases a day for a long time now, down from the earlier almost one lakh cases a day. The daily deaths in India have also halved from 950 plus to less than five hundred a day. These figures show a clear trend indicating that the coronavirus is not being transmitted across India as fast as it was earlier. Delhi has been an exception with highest ever cases and deaths reported in November. Of course, this could be due to the unprecedented number of tests conducted in the national capital. The toxic, polluted air in Delhi and much of North India at this time of the year means that lung related health issues are at a peak. This seems to be also contributing to a rise on coronavirus cases in urban concentrations in North India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking keen personal interest in making available a safe and effective vaccine to the Indian people. So as to save time, detailed plans and infrastructure are being put in place to quickly vaccinate the Indian population as and when the vaccine is available. The Prime Minister has stressed the safety aspect of the vaccine.

The exercise of vaccinating the entire Indian population is a massive one and will take months, if not a full year and more. This is why the more vulnerable sections of the population are to be vaccinated first. These include the frontline corona warriors and those above 65 years of age.

In any case, a vaccine would be available for use only by early 2021. That will be in the western world. India would get the vaccine sometime later, in lots of a few crore each. This is why it will be administered according to priority.

This kind of a scenario is being visualized if all goes well and there are no adverse events in the final phase of the trials of the vaccines. There are some reports that there have been some adverse events here and there, and they are being overcome. Will such eventualities mean a delay of a few more months? Would it be prudent to let the country of vaccine discovery, or those with stringent and rigorous approval regimes, to first use the vaccine in their own countries and only thereafter a country like India may go ahead with using the vaccine on its people.

After all, safety of the people is of paramount importance. Never has the human race used a vaccine developed in such a tearing hurry on so many billion humans. It is always advised to be safe, rather than being sorry. Meanwhile, the virus is generating natural immunity in the populace, rendering the vaccine to the status of only the second line of defence.


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