Vaccination only way forward as COVID infections surge in rural areas: Report

Mumbai, May 07 (PTI): As COVID-19 infections surge across the country with nearly half of the fresh cases now being in rural areas, accelerated vaccination is the only solution to contain the raging pandemic, according to a report by SBI Research.
So far, with a record 4,14,188 new infections reported in a day, total cases climbed to 2.15 crore while death toll crossed 2.34 lakh with 3,915 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.
Various countries have been sending medical supplies, including oxygen concentrators to India to help in its fight against COVID-19. The report noted that the share of the top 15 districts in total new cases has significantly plunged to 26.3 per cent in May from 55 per cent in March, indicating that the spread of infections is now dispersed across the country. What is more worrying is the increase in rural penetration as the share of rural districts in new cases has increased to 48.5 per cent in May from 36.8 per cent in March, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser at SBI, said in a note on Friday.
Vaccination can be the only driver as of now to contain the pandemic because recovery will actually depend on the public psyche to come out and this will not happen till the larger population is vaccinated. We thus again reemphasize the power of vaccination as a primary tool to reduce the severity of infections, he said.
He went to the extent of saying that vaccination must be carried out on a mission mode, even if it means suspending economic activity for a while after the second wave subsides so that all get vaccinated.
When looked district-wise, there is a clear shift visible. In March, Maharashtra had maximum 11 of 15 worst-affected rural districts. Now, the state has six. Other states that round up the 15 worst -affected districts are Andhra (5 ), Kerala (2), Karnataka (one), Rajasthan (one).
The only state that has shown improvement is Chhattisgarh which had three rural districts in top 15 during March and has no district now in the top 15 worst-affected rural districts.
However, Ghosh quickly pointed out there is nothing salutary on the vaccination front so far, as we have given only 160.5 million doses with around 131 million taken the first dose and 31.5 million the two doses.
The percentage of people who have taken two doses to total vaccination doses is a low 19.5 per cent. However, the daily vaccination is going down now with an average of 17 lakh compared to an average of 28 lakh in April.
“Given this trend, we believe we can only be able to vaccinate 15 per cent of the population by October which is required for herd immunity but only if we are able to vaccinate around 55 lakh daily in September and October,” Ghosh said. (in box with above)
4-digit security code in CoWIN from May 8 to minimise data entry error about vaccination status
New Delhi, May 7 (PTI) The CoWIN system is introducing a new feature of four-digit security code from May 8 to minimise data entry errors about vaccination status that would subsequently reduce inconvenience caused to citizens, the health ministry said.
It has been noticed in some instances that citizens who had booked their appointment for COVID-19 vaccination through the CoWIN portal but did not actually go for vaccination on the scheduled date have received SMS notification that a vaccine dose has been administered to them, it said.
Upon examination, it has been found to occur largely on account of the vaccinator wrongly marking the citizen as vaccinated, an instance of data entry error by the vaccinator, it stated.
“In order to minimize such errors and the subsequent inconvenience caused to the citizens, the CoWIN system is introducing a new feature of four-digit security code in the CoWIN application from May 8.
“Now, after verification, if the beneficiary is been found eligible, before administering the vaccine dose, the verifier/vaccinator will ask the beneficiary about his four-digit code and then enter the same in the CoWIN system to correctly record the vaccination status,” the ministry said in its statement.
This new feature will be applicable only for citizens who have done an online booking for a vaccination slot.
The four-digit security code will be printed in the appointment acknowledgement slip and will not be known to the vaccinator. The code will also be present in the confirmation SMS sent to beneficiary after successful booking of an appointment.
The appointment acknowledgement slip can also be saved and shown from the mobile.
This will ensure that for those citizens who have booked an online appointment, the data entries regarding vaccination status of a citizen are recorded correctly, the ministry said in a statement.
This will also reduce the opportunities of impersonation and wrongful use of flexibilities provided in CoWIN for facilitating vaccination coverage.
The ministry advised the citizens must carry a digital or physical copy of their appointment slip and the registered mobile phone with appointment confirmation SMS, so that the security code can be furnished for easy completion of vaccination recording process.

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