August 6, 2021 12:23:32 pm
More than half a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in WHO South-East Asia Region, with more doses becoming available and countries scaling up efforts to rapidly expand coverage amid recurrent surge in cases.
As of August 6, as many as 618.5 million doses have been administered, while 146 million people have received two vaccine doses and are fully vaccinated. At 489 million, the highest number of doses have been administered in India, which covered 8.6 million people on day one of its re-invigorated campaign in June.
“Countries across the region are making unprecedented efforts to reach more and more people with life-saving Covid-19 vaccines demonstrating their commitment to contain the pandemic at the earliest. We must continue these and also strictly implement public health and social measures,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region in an official statement issued Friday.
Vaccines are an important tool in our fight against the pandemic as they are effective, even against variants of concern.
Indonesia, which was the first in the Region to launch the Covid vaccination drive, has administered 71 million doses, followed by 18 million doses in Thailand. Sri Lanka has administered 13 million doses and has recently been consistently reaching out to 500,000 people per day with the vaccination.
Bangladesh is scaling up vaccination, and also preparing to inoculate Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. Bhutan has achieved a coverage of 70 per cent with the first dose and 62 per cent with two doses, the highest in the Region so far.
Maldives has vaccinated half its population with two doses and nearly 60 per cent with one dose of the vaccine, while Nepal has inoculated over 70 per cent of its frontline workers and elderly population with at least one dose.
Thailand has vaccinated 84 per cent of its health workforce, and Timor-Leste has successfully vaccinated almost a quarter of its population with one dose.
With more doses available in recent weeks through global vaccine programme Covax, all possible efforts need to be made to expand vaccination coverage further, she said, adding that nearly 90 per cent of all vaccine doses available in the Region have been utilised.
These countries are administering AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V and Pfizer following emergency use authorisation being granted by their national regulatory authorities. “Countries in the Region are striving to achieve WHO’s goal of having 10% of the population fully vaccinated by September end, 40% by the end of this year and 70% by mid-2022,” the Regional Director said.
This is also the time to closely evaluate vaccination coverage data to see who is being left out, where and why. Some people may still not be aware of the benefits of Covid vaccination, some may be unconvinced and some may have concerns or issues of accessibility, she said.
“We need tailored communication approach, just as we do for childhood immunization, and work closely with communities for uptake of vaccines,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh. Vaccines are lifesaving but implementation of public health and social measures are equally important, she emphasised.
“Even after taking both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, people must continue to wear mask, wash hands, maintain distance, avoid crowded areas etc. We need to ‘do it all’, especially when most people are not vaccinated and Covid-19 is widespread. This is the only way to curtail transmission of the virus that continues to overwhelm our health systems and impact lives and livelihoods,” the Regional Director said.
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