India can use the Aadhaar model to create a colossal vaccination programme encompassing 3-5 million people daily to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, opines Nandan Nilekani, Infosys Co-founder and the former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI.
Backing the idea of replicating the Aadhaar model, he explains that since it was created to enlist 1.5 million people a day, a mass vaccination system can be easily ensured to vaccinate 3.5 million Indians a day.
Nilekani said that if India gets "50-60 per cent vaccination", it can "reach vaccine-induced herd immunity and that would be the longer-term solution, I mean 4-5 months from now," The Economic Times reported.
Nilekani suggested that the government must ensure that "everybody gets a digital certificate with the date of vaccination, name of the vaccine, through which vendor and at what location."
Nilekani reckoned that authorities need to continue testing, "with contact-tracing and quarantining" so that COVID-19 doesn't "flare up".
He further said that "we are fortunate that India is the vaccine capital of the world" and that by January 2021 "you should see at least a couple of vaccines in the market". Exuding confidence in the Serum Institute of India (SII) and other companies, Nilekani said that these (companies) are capable of making a billion vaccines or more, "and six to seven such companies" are already doing "domestic research or licensing".
He added that these firms will be able to "make 100 million vaccines a month", and even if some of them are used by other countries, India will "have a lot more choices."
However, Nilekani underscored the big "if" in the implementation of the vaccination programme the way he described it, adding that the government must get "vaccination agencies certified and approved by the government with trained people". He highlighted that if the programme is designed well then "I don't see why we can't create a system to vaccinate 3-10 million people a day."
Nilekani also underlined that "every month that we lose on vaccination will further impact the economy" and getting the population vaccinated as effectively as possible at the earliest opportunity with the best digital infrastructure is supercritical. He said that "it's about execution" and the government needs to create a competent system around it to speedily inoculate its population.