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COVID-19: Expert group recommends free vaccine shot only for high-risk populations, frontline workers


NEW DELHI : India’s expert group on Covid-19 vaccine administration has recommended government sponsored vaccination for only high-risk populations that include the elderly above 50 years of age, those with co-morbidities and frontline workers, this newspaper has learnt.

In other words, a majority of the citizens — over 90 crore — will have to pay for vaccines from their own pockets. 

The committee has suggested an antibody test driven immunisation plan under which even those within the vulnerable group will be given a vaccine only if they do not have antibodies against SARS-CoV 2, top sources in the panel said.

“The serosurveys conducted in many metros so far have indicated that nearly 25-30% of the population is already exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and by the time an effective medicine arrives, this proportion of exposed population in most parts could be much higher,” a senior member of the group said.

“In such a scenario it will not be required to vaccinate people with antibodies,” he said.

“The government will also pay for the vaccination of only those who are the most vulnerable and also only those among this group who test negative for SARS Cov-2 antibodies,” the member said.

Another member confirmed it, saying that while the government still does not have a firm figure or database of those who qualify as the “most vulnerable”, an exercise is already underway to identify and prioritise them.