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
EDITORIAL HUNT #277 :“The Purpose of a Vaccine | UPSC”
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 health’ intervention in India.
PURPOSE OF A VACCINE
- 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.
- 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.
SOURCES : BBC
- VACCINE EFFICACY : The threshold coverage for any disease in a given population is based on the vaccine efficacy in a population.
- 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.
UNANSWERED PARAMETERS AND QUERIES
- 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.
- IMMUNISATION PROGRAM : The most important public health purpose of vaccination — as an immunisation programme — is convincingly answered.
- 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.
- 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