IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 5th Dec 2020

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #277 :“The Purpose of a Vaccine | UPSC

The Purpose of a Vaccine | UPSC

Mathew George
The Purpose of a Vaccine | UPSC

Mathew George is Professor at the Centre for Public Health, School of Health Systems Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai


The purpose of a vaccine


It is crucial to define the outcomes we are expecting from population-level vaccination plans for COVID-19

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Diseases : Vaccine


What is the purpose of a Vaccine ? Mention few hurdles for safe immunisation program. -(GS 3)


  • Vaccine and its significance
  • Purpose of the Vaccine
  • Unanswered questions
  • Unclear Objectives


  • LAST RESORT TO END THE PANDEMIC : The whole world is waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine as the last resort to control the pandemic.
  • EXAMINING CHALLENGES : It is important to examine the challenges it poses to qualify as a ‘public healthintervention in India.



  • PRODUCTION OF ANTIBODIES : The ability to develop immunity by producing antibodies among those individuals who have taken a vaccine shot.
  • A POPULAR MYTH : In the midst of a pandemic, the popular perception for vaccination is that which safeguards oneself from the disease.
  • DEMAND VS SUPPLY : It is this individualistic need that generates a huge demand for vaccines in the market.
In the absence of state intervention, will be affordable only for those who can pay for them.
  • ACHIEVING HERD IMMUNITY : More crucial purpose of vaccination is to achieve herd immunity in a population by ensuring a threshold coverage — the proportion of population that needs to be covered so that the entire population is protected.

The Purpose of a Vaccine | UPSC


  • VACCINE EFFICACY : The threshold coverage for any disease in a given population is based on the vaccine efficacy in a population.

The rate of spread of infection through it, also known as infectivity rate.

  • POPULATION LEVEL IMMUNITY : The threshold coverage is estimated to be around 60% for COVID-19 vaccine to achieve population-level immunity, which should ideally vary, depending on different stages of the pandemic.
  • PENETRATION OF VACCINATION : While deciding on whether vaccines need to be introduced amid a pandemic, there can be individual as well as population-level considerations.
  • CONCERNS RAISED : In the context of individual prevention include vaccine efficacy, which is generally defined as the probability that an individual, if vaccinated, can prevent the onset of infection.
  • AFTERMATH : Equally important is the probability of adverse reactions that can arise among individuals.


However, there are several other complex economic, social, ethical and systemic factors that need to be looked into.

  • COST OF THE VACCINE : Already, there are concerns raised about the economic resources needed to make the vaccine available for a large population: will it be provided free at the point of delivery or will it be charged?
  • PRESSURISED HEALTH SYSTEM : How will an already weakened health system be able to take on the vaccination drive that is expected to cover the entire population?
  • LOGISTIC SUPPLIES : What is the cost of ensuring necessary support services, including cold chains and human resources required for effective vaccine delivery?
  • PRIORITISATION : The most difficult ethical question posed is about who should be prioritised and what the basis is for such prioritisation.
  • SIDE EFFECTS : Equally relevant is the projected proportion of the population that may face adverse reactions and the ability of the health system to respond to those.
  • DURATION OF PROTECTION : Another aspect specific to the COVID-19 vaccine is the duration of protection provided.

      IASbhai Windup: 


  • IMMUNISATION PROGRAM : The most important public health purpose of vaccination — as an immunisation programme — is convincingly answered.

In the Indian context, it is not clear what outcome is expected of a population-based vaccination programme for COVID-19.

  • DOMINANT GROUPS : The most dominant argument is that health workers need to be covered on a priority basis, and then the elderly.
  • GOAL SETTING : The goal of population-level immunity, which is the expected outcome of any population-level vaccination drive may fail.

Its very purpose will be defeated if only a specific population group is targeted, when the pandemic can infect all groups similarly.

In New Zealand, preparations are on for a countrywide immunisation programme with a goal of covering the whole population with a threshold coverage.

  • A PILOT PROJECT : Like other public health programmes, it is safe to demonstrate the success of vaccination as a public health intervention in a small population, like a block or a district, before scaling it up for the national level.

We should not forget that it took us more than 13 years to declare eradication and achieve population-level immunity for a disease like polio, which targeted only children.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | The Purpose of a Vaccine | UPSC


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