‘Just like elections’: Harsh Vardhan in meet with Delhi govt ahead of Covid-19 vaccine dry run

Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan held a review meeting with officials of the Delhi government on Friday ahead of the Centre’s dry run of the vaccination drive against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in all states and Union territories on Saturday, news agency ANI reported. After conducting a dry run of Covid-19 vaccination in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat on December 28 and 29, the Centre will now extend the drill to rest of the country so that once a vaccine is approved for emergency use, the shot is administered to the first group of eligible people without a glitch.

“Target of this exercise is that minutest details are thoroughly researched. At least two vaccines have sent their applications to Drug Controller and experts for approval, their data are being studied pro-actively,” Vardhan said during the video meeting, according to ANI.

“The lists of health workers have been created and will be uploaded on Covid platform. Just like we prepare during elections, the same way we need to train each member of all medical teams responsibly,” Vardhan said. “After training over 2,000 master trainers at the national level, the training is underway at the state and district level, in over 700 districts. The procedure is similar to conducting elections where the team at a booth is also trained,” he added.

All state capitals will conduct dry runs in at least three session sites on Saturday. Some states will also include districts that are situated in difficult terrain or have poor logistical support. In vaccine dry run, the entire process of transporting the vaccines from storage to the site, administering them to candidates, feeding data on Co-WIN app is practised without any real vaccine.

The plan to extend the dry run to all states and Union territories comes amid the Drug Controller General of India’s (DCGI’s) indication that India might start the New Year with a vaccine against Covid-19. “We will have a Happy New Year with something in hand, that’s all I can hint at,” said VG Somani, DCGI, on Thursday.

In Gujarat dry run, 475 beneficiaries underwent the dummy procedure, the main aim of which is to identify if there is any loophole in the planned process. Crowd management at a booth, maintaining social distancing guidelines inside the booth are also being practised at the mock drills. In Punjab, Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar were selected for the dry run. Nalbari and Sonitpur were the two districts of Assam where the mock drill already took place. Krishna district from Andhra Pradesh was chosen for the two-day drill. Everywhere, the drill went on successfully.

The daily new coronavirus infections in India remained below 30,000 for the 19th consecutive day taking the Covid-19 caseload to 1,02,86,709, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 98.83 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

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