The SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is likely to be a moving target subject to vaccine availability, longevity of protection after vaccination and other operational aspects, says Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, a medical doctor and a leading expert on public policy, vaccines and health systems.
As of now, the Indian government aims to vaccinate 30 crore citizens over the next 6 to 8 months, which is around 22% of the total population.
However, no SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has so far been licensed for use among those under 18 years, a segment that constitutes around two-fifths of the Indian population. Similarly, these vaccines are also not advised for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Thus, the maximum number of people who can be vaccinated is around 55 to 60 percent of the total population. As more licensed vaccines and supplies — and safety data — become available, additional population groups can be expected to be added.
“In my opinion, the approach to vaccination is going to be very different during the pandemic and after the pandemic,” said Dr Lahariya, who is also the lead author of the recently published book “Till We Win: India’s Fight Against COVID-19”.
During the pandemic, most of the attention is likely to be on the vaccination of health workers and high-risk populations. Then, sometime in late 2021 or early 2022, the strategy would change. At that point, anyone who wants to get a vaccine can be expected to get one.
Even after the pandemic is over, SARS-CoV-2 is likely to stay with humanity and vaccination against it will be an ongoing process, like seasonal flu vaccination, he adds.