As the country started the third phase of Covid vaccination drive on Thursday, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria said that the need of the hour is to vaccinate more people and gradually open up to cover people from the lower age groups. However, he added that it needs to be balanced with the availability of vaccines.
“We are a very large country and if we were to say that we would want to vaccinate the entire adult population for which the vaccine has been currently approved, then that would mean close to one billion people. We will need two billion doses and there is no way that we could get two billion doses if we have to open it up for everyone,” Indian Express quoted Dr Randeep Guleria as saying.
The AIIMS chief said that there is a need to balance the vaccine available with the number of people to be vaccinated on priority basis.
He said that if the vaccination trends seem to be falling after a week or 10 days, then the vaccination can be started for the lower age group.
“There are people in the lower age group who are wanting to be vaccinated whereas others who are in the older age group meet the criteria but still are reluctant and not willing to take the vaccine but are holding up the line,” he reportedly said.
The vaccination drive which started in January has seen a slow response with many states missing the target of vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers.
Guleria said that the AIIMS, Delhi have started five vaccination sites and receiving 600 beneficiaries on daily basis higher than the normal daily footfall of 100.
“On Thursday, we vaccinated 996 people and we thought we would cross the 1000 mark. But these are early days, if this continues then we are in a very good position. But let’s say after 10 days we see only 50% of the people coming, that means we are reaching a saturation point for those who want to get themselves vaccinated. So maybe we should lower the age group now,” he added.
Highlighting the fact that over 50 percent of healthcare workers have not come forward, he said, “I have argued with them that the drive is not for them but for their patients. It should be mandatory for all the healthcare working in the hospital for the safety of their patients.”