New Delhi: Despite several roadblocks in the way, India rigorously scaled up the COVID-19 vaccination program. This was elaborated further in the latest Economic Survey 2023, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on January 31 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman. According to the survey, India has been able to administer more than 220 crore COVID vaccine doses across the country with the help of a robust digital infrastructure.
This year’s economic survey credits the Co-Win platform with enabling the administration of more than 220 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses in the shortest possible time. With the government’s efforts and the broad interlock of the digital framework, India could register a quick and durable economic recovery while continuing to secure lives and livelihoods. With more than 84.7 crore Co-WIN beneficiaries seeded with Aadhaar among the total of 104 crore (between January 2021 and September 2022), the seeds of JAM sown in FY15 proved to be a lifesaver for the nation.
Emphasizing the vitality of Co-WIN which has been developed as an extension of the eVIN (electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network) platform, in India’s National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, the survey highlighted the comprehensive cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating, provided an end-to-end solution with utilities for the entire public health system. The dual interface further plugged the wastage of COVID-19 vaccines, which otherwise occurred pre-Co-WIN.
The survey encapsulates several key challenges like research and development for new COVID vaccines, training of more than 2.6 lakh vaccinators and 4.8 lakh other vaccination team members, optimum utilisation of available vaccines, difficult-to reach population, and the need to ensure all essential health services along with scaling up of vaccination programme. The Economic Survey finds that the programme was able to overcome these challenges and meet its goals within a short time frame.
While talking about the robust digital infrastructure of Co-WIN, the survey mentions that 97 per cent of eligible beneficiaries have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and around 90 percent have received both doses.
The survey finds that even before the COVID arrived, India had laid down the strategy for mass vaccination as year-long programmes were running for several other diseases.
“Over the years, the government focused on digital health service delivery by imbibing the basic philosophy of “Antyodaya”. However, the need for end-to-end digitisation in the vaccination process was felt as this was the only way to achieve herd immunity during the pandemic. While many economies had to develop a model from scratch, India was in a comfortable position. Thanks to the Government’s vision of the JAM trinity, the critical challenge was addressed in a time-bound manner through Co-WIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) in implementing the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme,” further states the survey.
The Economic Survey observes, when discussing the historical perspective on vaccines in India, that vaccinations in India date back to 1802 when the first dose of vaccine was registered for smallpox.Tracing the medical history of vaccines back then was a difficult task.However, in the contemporary scenario, we have substantially progressed in the digital journey, and most medical science searches are a “click” away.
India’s National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, which is the world’s largest vaccination programme, began on January 16, 2021, and got extended with the inclusion of vaccination for the age group 12–14 years from 16 March 2022 onwards, followed by the precautionary dose for the age group 18-59 years starting from 10 April 2022. Also, 22.4 crore precautionary doses have been administered, added the Survey further.