Indian states told to improve second dose COVID-19 vaccination coverage among essential workers

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India’s Health Ministry has recommended that states improve second dose coverage of COVID-19 vaccinations among health care personnel and frontline workers. 

In a meeting on Thursday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan emphasized lagging coverage among the group, allegedly calling it a “cause of serious concern,” per multiple news reports.

VACCINE INEQUITY IN INDIA SENDS MANY FALLING THROUGH GAPS

One outlet reported an 82% national average in first dose administration among health care workers, while second dose administration fell to 56%. At least a half dozen states fell below the national average.

Meanwhile, first dose coverage for frontline workers was pinned at 85%, with second dose coverage falling to 47%. Nearly 20 states reported below the national average of second dose administration.

Private sector hospitals in some states were blamed for the short coverage. However, shortfalls in vaccinations extend further; Reuters reported that more men have received vaccinations in India, with disparities also affecting those in rural areas. Citing government data, the outlet noted some 101 million vaccinated men or 17% more than women. Men were said to account for 54% of all those inoculated.

The news comes as a coronavirus variant first identified in India was tied to 6% of infections in the U.S., and it has become the dominant strain in the U.K. The so-called Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, is believed to spread more readily than the original strain, and could pose a greater hospitalization risk, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said during a White House briefing earlier this week.

INDIA CAUTIOUSLY STARTS TO OPEN UP AS CORONAVIRUS CASES DECLINE 

Preliminary findings from Public Health England indicated that two weeks post-second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine, there was an 88% effectiveness against the Delta variant. Three weeks after a single dose, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease stemming from the Delta variant, underscoring the importance of a second dose, Fauci said.

In England, the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 strain has given way to the variant first identified in India.

“We cannot let that happen in the United States,” Fauci had said, stressing the need to complete vaccination series. “For those who have been not vaccinated yet, please get vaccinated.”

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