In April 2020, the Indian Public Health Association (IPHA) and the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) formed a Joint Task Force of distinguished public health specialists to advise the Indian government on how to control the COVID-19 epidemic.
IPHA and IAPSM stated in their study that vaccine delivery to rural primary healthcare institutions should be prioritised, and that vaccination of the vulnerable and at risk, rather than mass population-wide immunisation including children, should remain the goal in its current phase.
"People who have had verified COVID -19 infection do not need to be vaccinated. Following the generation of evidence that the vaccine is useful after natural infection, these persons may be immunised. The main goal of vaccination should be to keep the disease under control in the population”, read the report.
"Given the current state of the pandemic in the country, we should prioritise vaccination based on logistics and epidemiological data rather than opening vaccination to all age groups at this time," it stated.
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The experts' panel pointed out that opening all fronts at the same time would deplete human and other resources and spread them too thinly to have an influence on the people.
"Vaccines are a potent and effective weapon in the fight against the new coronavirus. And, like other powerful weapons, it should not be kept hidden or used indiscriminately; rather, it should be utilised tactically to get the most benefit in a cost-effective way
They also stated that vaccination of young adults and children is not supported by research and would be ineffective in terms of cost, and that unexpected immunisation can promote mutant strains.
"The establishment of mutant strains can also be triggered by mass, indiscriminate, and inadequate vaccination." Given the rapid spread of infection in different parts of the country, mass vaccination of all adults is unlikely to keep up with the rate of spontaneous infection among our youth.”
People who have recovered from a natural infection, according to the organisation, should be given low priority for vaccination. "Moreover, by excluding adults who have recovered from spontaneous illness, we can save significant resources," they added.
At the end of the second wave, the experts proposed doing real-time serosurveys at the local level to map the vulnerability at the district level and guide vaccination strategy.
"Long-term follow-up of the COVID -19 patient group to document re-infection, severity, and outcome in order to offer information on the duration of immunity after natural infection."Prioritize continuing vaccination effectiveness research in the field by following cohorts of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in various age groups," according to the report.
According to the expert panel, efforts should be made to attain a goal of genomic sequencing at least 3% of positive samples.
According to them, district-level sero monitoring might be planned using the EPI cluster sampling technique.
"If the seroprevalence at the district level is greater than 70% (because to a combination of natural illness and vaccination), there should be no lockdown and a return to normalcy should be tried," according to the report. (Source: ANI)