Routine immunisation suffered due to COVID-19, it has to be put back on track: Mandaviya
Pune, Oct 20: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday said routine immunisation was affected due to the coronavirus pandemic and the earlier vaccination programme has to be brought back on track.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN) here, Mandaviya said India achieved the feat of administering 100 crore coronavirus vaccine doses in nine months and 200 crore in 18 months. Today, around 70 per cent of the population in the is fully vaccinated against coronavirus, he said.
India's coronavirus vaccination programme began on January 16, 2021. Lauding vaccine makers Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Biological E and Zydus Cadila, the minister said they have helped the government at every step on the vaccine front.
“My expectation from you (stakeholders) is that you don't just focus on vaccines for COVID-19, but we have to think about routine immunisation as well. Routine immunisation was affected due to COVID-19 and it has to be brought back on the track. We have to make rapid progress on this front,” he said.
India runs one of the world's largest universal immunization programmes targeting millions of people every year, including children, and protecting them from multiple diseases. Mandaviya highlighted four focus points in relation to vaccines --- knowledge, technology, social and economic.
On the knowledge front, he suggested an active collaboration between universities and organisations abroad. He said the industry-academia collaboration should be encouraged and added there is a need to focus more on research and development of vaccines, which India is doing.
The minister said the best technology in the medical field that is available in the world must be brought to India, a global leader in vaccine manufacturing. He cited the example of Covishield vaccine for coronavirus which was developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharma company, and the technology was transferred to the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which in turn manufactured it. Mandaviya said ensuring affordable and good quality vaccines should be a priority for stakeholders. If production is scaled up, then prices will obviously come down and help Indian vaccines reach all parts of the world, the minister added.