With hope floating for a Covid vaccination in near future due to trials reaching advanced stage, the Punjab government has initiated an exercise to compile the database of healthcare workers (HCWs) after the Centre conveyed to the states that HCWs of both government and private faacilities may be prioritised for the vaccination, once it becomes available.
Punjab Secretary Health-cum-Mission Director National Health Mission Kumar Rahul in a letter to all deputy commissioners and civil surgeons across the state on October 20 stated that all districts need to ensure that every facility within the district fills up details of all healthcare workers (HCWs) associated with it in a standard template at web link https:/hmis.nhp.gov.in/#!/ & submit it back to the district.
Referring to an October 16 correspondence by Union Health Ministry secretary Rajesh Bhushan which said that the Union Health Ministry was in the process of “preparing a database of HCWs of Govt. & Private facilities, who may be prioritised for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available”, Rahul wrote that after receiving the complete datasets from the facilities, the districts will upload the templates on COVID-19 Vaccination Beneficiary Management System (CVBMS), for which guidelines will be shared later.
“You are requested to direct all facility Incharge i.e. both Govt & Private to submit the data, with immediate effect. If required, additional staff may also be engaged using the funds available under the Emergency Response COVID-19 package. Please ensure completeness, quality & authentication of the HCWs data,” he wrote.
During the pandemic, 13 health officials, including a doctor, pharmacy officers and multipurpose health workers (males and females) and an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) have died in Punjab after contracting the infection.
More than 1,200 health officials, who have been on frontline to combat the pandemic, have been infected in the state.
According to Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, the exact designation-wise details of those infected from health department were in the process of being prepared, the “majority of those infected included multi-purpose health workers and ASHAs”.
Punjab ASHA Workers’ Union president Kirandeep Kaur Panjola said, “At least 500 ASHAs were infected before we stopped getting tested.”
Punjab Health Secretary Hussan Lal said no finer details were available from Centre as to when the Covid vaccine could become a reality. As of now, Lal said, “They have asked us to compile the data of the healthcare workers. They have created a web portal for uploading the details. We are in the process of compiling the data and would review the progress. At least we should be ready with the database once Centre government launches the vaccine.”
As per official website of World Health Organization (WHO), “There are currently more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with a number of these in the human trial phase. WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, business, and global health organizations through the ACT Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response. When a safe and effective vaccine is found, COVAX [a global coooperation] led by WHO (World Health Oorganization), GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk will be prioritized.”
“Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences — the immune system — to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness. Immunization currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. There are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, and work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease,” reads the WHO website.
Some of the clinical trials for developing the vaccine are in advanced stage of trial. On Monday, there were reports that the Covid vaccine being developed jointly by University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc had shown encouraging results as trials showed that the vaccine induced a strong immune response among the elderly, bracketed as one of the most vulenrable people to the infection, and fatality.
Among the others who are in various stages of clinical trials to develop the vaccine are Bharat Biotech and Zadis Cadilla.
Said Dr Bhaskar, “Broadly, the clinical trials of a vaccine are categorised into four phases. In first phase, the vaccine is administered to a small number of people like 100 or so. In second phase, the number is increased to 1,000 or more. In phase three, aged population and those with co-morbodities are among those who are administered the vaccine. And once it is cleared, it enters phase four where its progress and effectiveness is monitored after it is administered to a large number of population.”
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