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WHO calls for covid-19 surveillance data on all risk groups for vaccination

The WHO also focussed on countering vaccine hesitancy (REUTERS)Premium
The WHO also focussed on countering vaccine hesitancy (REUTERS)

  • WHO's Immunization Technical Advisory Group said that while establishing collaboration with other health programmes and sectors for optimum delivery of vaccine, countries should leverage their experience in vaccine delivery for adults to find ways to reach eligible adults with covid-19 vaccines.

New Delhi: There should be ensured availability of high-quality, complete and timely covid-19 surveillance data on all risk groups, including migrants and remote or displaced populations, for decision-making related to vaccination, the Immunization Technical Advisory Group of the World Health Organization (WHO) South East Asia Region has recommended.

While establishing collaboration with other health programmes and sectors for optimum delivery of vaccine, countries should also leverage their experience in vaccine delivery platforms for adults, including experience with seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccination, and measles, rubella and Japanese encephalitis vaccination campaigns, to find effective ways to reach eligible adults with covid-19 vaccines, the expert panel has said.

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The panel further said that adjustments should be made to vaccination strategies in accordance with the covid-19 prevention measures and plans developed for demand generation, community engagement and risk communication, with special consideration for overcoming vaccine hesitancy. Countries should leverage the use of existing networks, including those for polio, to support the deployment of covid-19 vaccines where appropriate.

The expert group highlighted the need for all countries to assess available cold chain space and meticulously plan cold chain requirement, including necessary improvements in storage, stock management, vaccine delivery strategy and waste management.

The expert group also made a series of recommendations, including a fast tracking of the development of national deployment and vaccination plan, the application of guidelines provided by the "Values framework for the allocation and prioritization of covid-19 vaccines" and the "prioritization roadmap" to identify priority populations and ensuring equity in delivery of covid-19 vaccines, especially during the early stages when vaccine supply is expected to be limited.

The WHO national regulatory authorities and vaccine manufacturers in WHO South-East Asia Region on Friday discussed fast-tracking of covid-19 vaccine rollout in member countries.

The meeting deliberated processes and timelines to fast-track registration of covid-19 vaccines in countries using the emergency use listing procedures while comprehending the landscape of covid-19 vaccine production in the region.

“Establishing expedited regulatory pathways for vaccine approval and adjusting regulatory pathways to the type of vaccine that is developed and filed for approval remains critical as emergency use authorization will precede full licensure," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

While vaccine licensure systems may need to be modified, having standard operating procedures and stipulated timelines for emergency use authorization would be vital, she said.

The regional director emphasized on effective coordination, collaboration and information-sharing. From research and development to production, and from information on country readiness to post-marketing surveillance, manufacturers, regulators, policy-makers and planners must continue to work together to optimize and refine vaccine deployment.

Key global and regional partners, such as Gavi and Unicef, participated in the meeting. Among the vaccine manufacturers, from India, Bharat Biotech International Ltd, Biological E Ltd, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd and Wockhardt Ltd; from Indonesia, Bio Farma Ltd; and from Thailand, Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), Bionet Asia Co. Ltd and Siam Bioscience, participated in the meeting.

Earlier, WHO organized a meeting of cold chain managers of countries of the South East Asia region to help assess cold chain needs, identify gaps and plan for appropriate measures.

As India gears up for covid-19 vaccination programmes, total number of covid-19 cases increased to 9,797,065 and the toll mounted to 1,42,335 on Friday.

The number of daily new cases in the last 24 hours is 29,398. India’s present active caseload consists of 3.71% of India’s total positive cases.

At least 72.39% of the new cases are concentrated in 10 states and UTs. Kerala reported the highest daily new cases at 4,470. It is followed by Maharashtra with 3,824 new cases. At least 414 case fatalities have been reported in the past 24 hours. Ten states/UTs account for 79.95% of new deaths, the Union health ministry said.

Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (70). Delhi and West Bengal follow with 61 and 49 daily deaths, respectively, the government said.

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