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healthcare | IST

As 3rd COVID-19 wave looms, expert points to gender gap challenge in inoculation drive

According to data from the CoWin portal, out of the total 30.9 crore doses administered from January 2021 till June 25, 2021, 14.3 crore were given to women vis-a-vis 16.7 crore to men. The proportion of vaccine coverage -- 856 doses to women for every 1,000 doses for men -- does not match India's current sex ratio of 924 women per 1,000 men.

An expert panel, set up by an institute under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has predicted that the third wave of COVID-19 can hit the country anytime between September and October. It has suggested significantly ramping up the vaccination pace.
The committee of experts, constituted by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), said children will have a similar risk as adults since paediatric facilities, doctors and equipment like ventilators, ambulances, etc. are nowhere close to what may be required in case a large number of children are infected.
The report, which has been submitted to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), observed that only around 7.6 percent (10.4 crore) people are fully vaccinated in India and if the current vaccination rate is not increased, India can witness six lakh cases per day in the next wave.
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According to data from the CoWin portal, out of the total 30.9 crore doses administered from January 2021 till June 25, 2021, 14.3 crore were given to women vis-a-vis 16.7 crore to men. The proportion of vaccine coverage -- 856 doses to women for every 1,000 doses for men -- does not match India's current sex ratio of 924 women per 1,000 men.
The largest state in India, Uttar Pradesh, has 42 percent vaccination coverage of women, West Bengal has 44 percent, Dadra and Nagar Haveli (predominantly rural UT) has 30 percent. Only a few states- Kerala and Andhra Pradesh -- have more vaccine coverage for women than men. Rural women are even more marginally placed vaccination-wise, the report said.
Speaking about gender gaps in vaccination, Dr Rajib Dasgupta, Member of National AEFI Committee said, “As far as vaccination goes, yes it has certainly picked up pace, but some gaps still remain. For example, the gender gap. Even as of today, 4 crore fewer women have been immunised than men. Part of it is linked to pregnancy, lactation, etc. but the fact is that a gender gap exists. Similarly, there are other inequities and just beyond a sheer target of covering so many by such and such date, it is really inequities that ought to be the discourse.”
On the NIDM report Das said, “The NIDM report simply compiles a set of alternative scenarios, and yes, that was the worst-case scenario based on a certain set of assumptions.
He added that now it is known that seroprevalence is on an average of 66 percent and it is as high as 70-75 percent in at least half a dozen states with large populations. This also means that there are pockets where the seroprevalence would be relatively low.
“Kerala as a whole is at around 45 percent and therefore, the need for district-level sero surveys, which actually point to a more granular understanding of vulnerability,” he said, adding that vulnerability assessment can help figure what needs to be focussed on and where resources must be used.
He said that planning should shift to the district level in a much stronger way than earlier and in fact, the NITI Aayog and the ICMR have all mandated that district-level sero-surveys be undertaken by the states.
“But then sero-surveys are resource-intensive not just in terms of money, but human resources, technology and so on. So, it may not be possible to produce district-level sero-surveys overnight. Therefore, the assessment of the situation level at the district level has to be made and then responded accordingly,” Das said.
For the full interview, watch the accompanying video...
With PTI inputs