Aim of COVID vax is to protect most vulnerable: Govt

GK File/Aman Farooq

Amid demands from several quarters for the relaxation of the age limit for COVID-19 vaccination in view of a spike in cases, the Centre on Tuesday said the aim is to protect those who are most vulnerable, and not to “administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it”.

During a weekly press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said many people are asking why the government isn’t opening up vaccination for all those aged above 18.

Bhushan said even Western countries have conducted the vaccination drive in phases.

“The basic aim is to reduce death through vaccination. The other aim is to protect your healthcare system. If healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics and others fall sick, who will work in hospitals? So the aim for any country is to protect those who are the most vulnerable. The aim is never to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it,” he said.

“We need to understand that we are carrying out adult vaccination and sudden ramping up cannot be done. The ramping up has to be done in a scientific manner which says that when you are being inoculated then one has to sit for 30 minutes to observe if any adverse event takes place. So keeping that in mind with scientific rigour, we have administered about 8 crore doses in less than 80 days in our country,” he said.

NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul said the narrative has to be seen in a scientific way. So far, nobody doing vaccine research has shown that if given on this scale, it leads to herd immunity, he said, adding that it is not yet scientifically proven.

“What we know so far is that all vaccines that are being used, including the two being used in India, reduce mortality, severity of the disease, protect lives and keeping that in mind priority groups have been decided,” Paul said.

He said priority groups have been decided on the basis of who is vulnerable to mortality. “Because history will only remember how many deaths have taken place. Globally, vaccine is finite,” he underlined.