Amid fears of a new coronavirus strain, the government is ramping up COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and will begin a dry run in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Assam from today, a day after they reported the lowest number of cases in 6 months.
The dry run will be conducted to check the feasibility of the plan involving real-time monitoring via Co-WIN app and will not involve vaccine administration. Aspects like management of probable side effects after vaccination, checks on cold storage and plugging the leaks in transportation arrangements will also be evaluated. As many as 2,360 participants were trained during a national level training of state immunisation officers, cold chain officers, information, education, communication officials and development partners.
The Centre plans to immunise 30 crore people in the first phase trials. In Andhra Pradesh, these trials will take place in Krishna district across 5 locations whereas in Punjab, they will take place in Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh districts.
According to Karnataka's health commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar, "The dry run is aimed at testing the planned operations and the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination in the state. It will provide insights into any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the actual drive."
Five sessions will be held at identified locations with pre-identified beneficiaries-- healthcare workers. The feasibility of Co-WIN, an application used to identify beneficiaries will be accessed through this dry run, apart from the planning, implementation and reporting mechanism.
Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) panels will also be formed and treatment centres identified in case the vaccine leads to a side effect in any of the beneficiaries. Bhaskar further told PTI, "After the dry run, we will prepare a report for the State Task Force, which will review the feedback and guide us on further actions", adding this report will also be submitted to the Union Health Ministry.
In Punjab, 65 cold storage points have been developed across Ludhiana and the "vaccination drive will be held in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines issued by the authorities, " according to Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana, Varinder Sharma. In Assam, Sonitpur and Nalbari districts have been identified for the dry run. As per officials, the end-to-end testing comprises vaccine and logistics mobilisation in two districts.