New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic has indeed been one of the most difficult times for the world as a whole and for several countries in particular, India being one of them. The healthcare scenario has witnessed a revolution where the use of medications and workload management have completely changed. From seeing hospitals inundated with patients running out of beds to seeing multiple people lose their lives, the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy for the world’s largest democracy. But in January 2021, a silver lining emerged when the Comptroller General of Drugs of India (DCGI) gave the green light to two Indian-made vaccines for emergency use – Covishield from Serum Institute and Covaxin from Bharat Biotech.
From frontline healthcare workers to the elderly with comorbidities in adults to children, millions of people have received doses of the covid vaccine, reducing the risk of infection, hospitalization or death. But this victory was not the only one for India on the immunization front. Also in the past, the country has saved the world with its remarkable achievements in vaccines. Ahead of the 75e Independence Day, we remember all those victories.
Eradication of polio
After two decades of campaigns and house-to-house vaccination and child immunization, India received the World Health Organization (WHO) ‘polio-free’ certificate on March 27, 2014. The latest case was reported in Howrah in January 2011. Despite several obstacles in the way, ranging from the reluctance of the population to vaccinate to the ignorance of the burden of the population, the government and several partners have achieved the feat.
Vaccines were procured on a fixed schedule and storage facilities were built across the country for uninterrupted access at all times. The World Bank has provided $640 million in funds for polio eradication in India – and with 2.4 million volunteers, 150,000 vaccine administration supervisors working to administer the oral vaccine to 170 million of children under the age of five and making repeated rounds in areas of high concentration – impressive efforts have been made in this direction.
Collaboration at all levels has contributed to the country’s success in this direction and this immunization achievement has undoubtedly been one of the most impressive efforts ever seen. Moreover, it has also benefited the whole world.
Is it the only one?
India over the years has reported many such victories in health including:
- Eradicating smallpox in 1977
- Development and production of the very first indigenous polio vaccine in 1970
- Development of a very first recombinant DNA vaccine against hepatitis B in 1997
After implementing several vaccination policies and campaigns, India has freed itself from the clutches of several life-threatening diseases. The timeline of achievements is also a beacon of hope for covid – a time when India could establish itself as a covid-free nation.