Hyderabad: The strategy adopted by Telangana to first administer Covid vaccines to populations which are at greater risk of mortality, hospitalisation and transmission, might just be the most successful Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plan that could be a role model for other States to emulate.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s decision to first identify high-risk groups and vulnerable individuals in the society and vaccinate them, ensured effective and equitable distribution of Covid vaccines in Telangana.
This same strategy was recently put forward by noted bioethicist and Assistant Professor at Western University, Canada, Maxwell Smith in The Lancet journal, where he said that not just speed but effective and equitable vaccination are also key to the success of Covid-19 vaccination.
“In addition to speed, countries should be evaluated on metrics that correspond to the actual public health objectives that vaccination programmes should seek to achieve: the extent to which populations at greatest risk (eg, of death, hospitalisation, exposure, or transmission) are being vaccinated; and the extent to which disparities exist among populations eligible to be vaccinated. Measuring success in terms of these additional metrics might compel countries to ensure vaccines are not only deployed rapidly, but also effectively and equitably,” Maxwell Smith, who is also member of Ontario Vaccine Distribution Task Force, in his The Lancet article published on June 25, said.
The State government launched the special vaccine drive for vulnerable population in Telangana on May 28 and in the next three phases, managed to vaccinate 34,85,888 high risk individuals who were employed in a variety of occupations across Telangana.
In his article, Maxwell Smith acknowledged that sometimes in the quest to achieve speed in rolling-out vaccines, decision makers overlook equity and the importance of targeting individuals who are most vulnerable.
“Decision makers who are under immense pressure to rank favourably in vaccination trackers are more likely to eschew considerations of equity and strategies targeting populations most at risk in favour of adopting whatever approach gets vaccines distributed faster,” he wrote.
The bioethicist in his article in The Lancet felt that speed should never be the criteria to judge the success of Covid vaccination. “As long as speed is the only measure by which countries’ vaccination programmes are compared, we should not expect decision makers to calibrate vaccine roll-outs to achieve objectives that deviate from the path of least resistance. In addition to speed, countries should be evaluated on metrics that correspond to the actual public health objectives,” he said.