New Delhi: India has so far approved 15 vaccines as primary vaccination and five for booster dose, for restricted use in emergency situation against Covid-19, the pandemic that broke out in the country in early 2020.

This is apart from the two vaccines – Covishield and the indigenously developed Covovax – which received complete approval for manufacture for sale or for distribution in the country.

According to a latest update from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the regulator has approved three vaccines for booster dose for restricted use under emergency situation in 2023. For Covovax, from Serum Institute of India (SII), approval was issued on January 16, for ZyCoV-D from Zydus Lifesciences on April 20, and Gemcovac – OM from Gennova Biopharmaceuticals on July 7, this year.

Approval for the booster dose of Corbevax from Biological E and iNcovacc from Bharat Biotech were issued by the regulator in the year 2022.

Approval for primary vaccination series for restricted use in emergency situation were issued to vaccines including Sputnik-V for Dr Reddy’s Lab (imports), Panacea Biotec, and Hetero Biopharma, Sputnik light from Dr Reddy’s Lab and Hetero Pharma, Moderna Vaccine from Cipla Ltd (imports), Janessen Vaccine for Johnson and Johnson (imports) and Biological E, three dose and two dose forms of ZyCoV-D for Caidila Healthcare, Covaxin for Bharat Biotech, Covovax for SII, Corbevax for Biological E, HGCO-19 for Gennova Pharmaceuticals, and iNcovacc for Bharat Biotech, over 2021 and 2022.

India’s Covid-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 220.67 Cr (220,67,77,608) as per provisional reports from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. As on November 30, there are 318 active cases, 4.44 crore patients discharged and 4.33 lakh deaths reported. The recovery rate is around 98.81 per cent. Till the middle of this year, India has also exported 3012.465 lakh of vials to almost 101 countries, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

It may be noted that the approval process for some of the vaccines also invited severe criticism from certain corners, which alleged that the process skipped some of the important steps which ensure safety of the patients.

Elaborating on the efforts behind fighting Covid-19, the Economic Survey 2022-23 in the beginning of this year, said India’s National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, which is the world’s largest vaccination programme, began on January 16, 2021, initially with the aim of covering the adult population of the country in the shortest possible time. The programme was expanded to include all persons aged 12 years and above and for the precautionary dose for all persons aged 18 years and above.

The introduction of Covid-19 vaccines entailed many challenges such as 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 vaccine, difficult-to reach population, and the need to ensure all essential health services along with scaling up of vaccination programme. In addition, logistical challenges such as storage and decentralised distribution of vaccines across 29,000 cold chain points, augmenting cold chain capacity, and developing IT platform for registering the beneficiaries and vaccine service delivery, were also noticed. The programme was able to overcome these challenges and meet its goals within a short time frame.

Emphasising 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 that Co-WIN, a comprehensive cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating Covid-19 vaccination in India, the Co-WIN system provided an end-to-end solution with utilities for the entire public health system. The dual interface of the open platform made it scalable across citizen and administrator-centric services. To ensure accountability and transparency in supply chains for vaccination, the platform provided real-time stock tracking at the national, state, and district levels (Government and Private). This further plugged the wastage of Covid-19 vaccines, which otherwise occurred pre-Co-WIN.

The Survey says, going beyond the users (admins, supervisors, and vaccinators), vaccination centres, and beneficiaries’ registration in 12 regional languages, the web solution extended the issuance of digitally verifiable certificates. The Vaccination Certificate was designed at par with WHO Guidelines to assist even international travellers.