NEW DELHI: As the world prepares for a vaccine against Covid-19, India has started identifying around 30 crore priority beneficiaries, including high-risk population and first responders — from healthcare workers to police, sanitation workers as well as the elderly and people with co-morbidities — who will likely receive an estimated 60 crore vaccine doses.
The shots, which include the booster dose, are planned for the initial phase once a vaccine is approved for use. The list has four categories — around 50-70 lakh healthcare professionals, over two crore frontline workers, including police, municipal workers and armed forces, about 26 crore persons above 50 years of age and another set aged less than 50 but with co-morbidities.
Currently, there are three vaccine candidates undergoing human trials in India. Of these, the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate is in the most advanced stage in Phase 3 and Pune-based Serum Institute is conducting trials in India. The government recently said its Phase 3 data will be available around November-end or early December.
The draft of the implementation plan drawn by the national expert group on vaccine administration for Covid-19 has worked on inputs received by central agencies and the states. The group, headed by Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul and co-chaired by health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, has studied allocations for early-phase vaccinations proposed by the CDC, Atlanta and the WHO while charting India’s framework for equitable and need-based access. The plan aims to cover over 23% of the population in the first phase and was discussed in a meeting of the group of ministers on Covid-19 headed by Union health minister Harsh Vardhan earlier this week.
Will need 600m doses for priority groups: Official
According to the draft plan, the experts’ committee has estimated a 70-lakh healthcare workforce from the government as well as private sector. This includes 11 lakh MBBS doctors and 8 lakh Ayush practitioners; 15 lakh nurses, 7 lakh ANMs and 10 lakh ASHA workers. The list includes 7-8 lakh allied healthcare professionals and others, like sanitation workers, ambulance workers and hospital security. “We are in the process of identifying these beneficiaries and the final list will be ready by October-end or early November,” an official told TOI.
The draft plan also includes over 2 crore frontline workers, including 45 lakh police and related forces at the central and state levels along with home guards and 15 lakh people from the armed forces. Besides, 1.5 crore municipal workers and frontline teams involved in community services, like public transport drivers, cleaners and teachers, have also been identified.
An estimated 26 crore people are over 50 years of age and younger persons with conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, chronic kidney failure, lung disease, cancer and liver diseases are also being identified to receive the vaccine on priority.
“Considering the overlaps in certain categories, we have estimated that a total of 550-600 million doses of the vaccine will be required initially for the priority population,” an official said.
Public health experts said the move is timely, even as they seek the plan to be made public for consultation. “The government must put out the allocation framework criterion in the public domain to ensure there is transparency. There is enough time for consultation on the matter,” says Anant Bhan, a researcher in global health, bioethics and health policy.
The proposal also includes a plan to track the latest vaccine stock position, temperature at storage facility, geotag health centres, and maintain facility-level dashboard for delivery across India.
India calls for complete ceasing of support to terrorist forces in Middle East
UNITED NATIONS: India has called on all concerned parties to completely stop supporting terrorist forces, like the ISIS, while urging all stakeholders in the Middle East to work constructively for peace, stability and development.
India underscored that it has invested considerably in the peace and stability of the region by deploying its personnel as part of UN peacekeeping forces, through humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, capacity building, and will continue contributing towards peace-building in the Middle East.
“India calls on concerned parties to completely stop support to terrorist forces, like ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and others. India also urges all parties in the region to work constructively and in good faith to promote peace, stability and development for the benefit of all people in the Middle East,” India said in a written statement on Monday on the Security Council’s open debate on ‘The Situation in the Middle East’.
India said the truce between Israel and the Hamas has eased the humanitarian situation in Gaza and expressed hope that the temporary truce is converted into a permanent ceasefire, which can save precious human lives on both sides and create a conducive environment for talks.
“It is an unfortunate reality that the interlinked and mutually reinforcing challenges faced by the people of the Middle East have not yet been resolved. Political instability, long-festering conflicts, sectarian divides, issue of refugees and terrorism continue to plague the region. The COVID-pandemic has only exacerbated the threats posed by these challenges,” India said.
The statement made India’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, will go as part of the official record of the Council.
India said it appreciates the agreement between Fatah and Hamas for holding Parliamentary and Presidential elections and also elections for the Palestinian National Council, which will help fulfill the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.
India also welcomed the agreements for normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. “India has always supported peace and stability in West Asia, which is our extended neighbourhood,” India said.
Further, India said the commencement of discussions on the disputed border between Israel and Lebanon is a significant development, expressing hope that this will provide an opportunity to resolve the longstanding issue between the two countries.
India highlighted that Palestinian aspirations for a sovereign and independent state are yet to be fulfilled and stressed that New Delhi has been unwavering in its commitment to the Palestinian cause and continues to remain supportive of a peaceful negotiated resolution of the Palestinian issue.
“India has supported the two-state solution as a just and acceptable solution to the conflict. Establishment of a Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, within mutually agreed borders should be achieved through negotiations directly by the two parties,” India said adding that any stalemate could strengthen the hands of extremists and shut the door to cooperation thereby jeopardising the security, stability and prosperity of the people on both sides and the region.
Accordingly, India urged Israel and Palestine to resume direct negotiations at the earliest and called upon the international community to take concrete steps towards resuming and facilitating these negotiations quickly.
India noted that the decade-long armed conflict in Syria has claimed over 400,000 lives, displaced 6.2 million people internally and compelled another 6.3 million people to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.
“While we are heartened to see return of normalcy to major parts of the country, we are also reminded of the enormous resources that would be required to provide urgent humanitarian aid, rebuild infrastructure, enable return of the refugees and restore a normal and dignified life of all Syrians,” the statement said.
India said in the statement that it is not only contributing to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria, but has also consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.
India voiced concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and said the recent exchange of prisoners by the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah, who had been detained in connection with the conflict, is a welcome development.
“India hopes that the parties will take more confidence building measures to provide the necessary impetus for the full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement,” the statement read.
India also hopes for peace and stability in Iraq with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
India noted that in the aftermath of the August blast that brought destruction to vast swathes of Beirut and inflicted heavy loss of lives, India stood in solidarity with Lebanon.
New Delhi sent emergency humanitarian aid of over 58 metric tons to Beirut. “We look forward to the swift formation of a new government that can offer political stability and also tackle the grave socio-economic challenges being faced by the people of Lebanon,” the statement said.
US, India must focus on threat posed by China: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo
NEW DELHI: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Tuesday stressed on the need for Washington and New Delhi to work together to counter the threat posed by Beijing to “security and freedom”
Pompeo’s comment came during the crucial 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, which saw the signing of a crucial defence agreement between the two countries.
“There is much more work to do for sure. We have a lot to discuss today: Our cooperation on the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom to promoting peace and stability throughout the region,” Pompeo said during talks with defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Pompeo was joined by defence secretary Mark Esper.
Esper too focussed on the apparent threat posed by China, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Our focus now must be on institutionalising and regularising our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” Esper said.
The comments assume significance as India is locked in a border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.
In June this year, 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of PLA soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, hardening the mood in India against China and driving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to seek closer military ties with the United States.
In the US, President Donald Trump has made being tough on China a key part of his campaign to secure a second term in next week’s presidential election and Pompeo has been trying to bolster allies to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
This month, India invited Australia to join naval drills it holds each year with the United States and Japan, brushing off Chinese concerns that the exercises destabilise the region.
(With inputs from agencies)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Secretary Mark Esper meet NSA Doval
NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper on Tuesday held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, covering key aspects of growing strategic ties between the two countries.
Issues of strategic importance were discussed at the meeting, sources said.
The meeting took place ahead of the third edition of 2+2 ministerial dialogue. Esper and Pompeo arrived here on Monday for the crucial talks aimed at further boosting the defence and security ties between the two countries.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held separate talks with their US counterparts on Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday, both the top US administration officials visited the National War Memorial and paid tributes to India’s fallen heroes.
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