In a significant announcement, the World Health Organisation on Monday laid the roadmap on the global access of coronavirus vaccine by different sections of society.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that initially it is expected that there will be a shortage of the vaccine around the world.
"It is important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk around the globe," he said adding that healthcare workers at the frontline would be its first recipients.
They are "critical to saving lives and stabilising the overall health system", he said, adding that it would be followed by those above the age of 65 because they are facing a higher "risk of dying" from the virus.
A recent study in the UK and the US showed that healthcare workers’ risk of contracting COVID-19 could be three times more than that of the general population.
Data collected by Amnesty International shows that, globally, over 3,000 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19. The Indian Medical Association pegs the figure at 196 in the country ever since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Two rounds of meetings have been held by the National Expert Group on Vaccines in India to discuss the way forward in terms of procurement of the vaccine and how it will be eventually distributed.
The government, while remaining tight-lipped on the strategy, has indicated that there is a possibility of the economically weaker sections of society would get the first shots because of the disadvantage they are at owing to their weakened owing to prolonged malnourishment and poverty.
The WHO also said that as capacity builds further, the next stage of the vaccine roll-out would depend on each country's vulnerability to the virus.
The international body further said that a number of vaccines are in the final stages of the trial and efforts are on to ensure two billion doses of safe effective vaccines by the end of 2021.
It sounded off the chances of “vaccine nationalism” which the body says will help the virus. Hence, the need for the COVAX facility which has been designed to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
According to WHO, about 172 countries are engaging with the COVAX facility, and more funding and binding commitments are needed.
The facility is designed to ensure risks are pooled and prices of the vaccine kept low.
COVAX is co led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, the WHO and the CEPI – which is the coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. At present, it covers nine candidates of COVID-19 vaccines said the WHO.