Instilling trust in vaccination process

Kanwar M Dilshad

THE first batch of Covid-19 vaccination, totalling half a million doses manufactured by Sino harm, had arrived in Islamabad from Beijing and the federal government dispatched the provinces their share from it the next day. The National Command and Operation Centre deserves plaudits for the smooth start to the mammoth country wide campaign. Judging by the detailed plan it has drawn up, considerable effort is being expanded to ensure that vaccine procurement keeps up with the pace of inoculation.
Dr Faisal Sultan Special Assistant for Health is of the view, that fear is that of the 70 m of adult population who should be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, as per health expert view, a considerable number. ..up to 30 m may refuse it or opt out for one reason or another… That is among several concerns in a situation where, at least to some extent, authorities are blind. The novel coronavirus has been around for a little over a year.

The immune system response to the vaccines, despite extensive human trials leading up to the approval stage, remains the subject of some debate. Consider that health authorities in France and Sweden have cleared Astra Zeneca Covid 19 vaccine but advised against administering it to the people over 65 years that is at variance with the E U decision to approve the vaccine for adults of all ages.

Meanwhile, major UK study has confirmed that most people who have been in effected with the coronavirus have anti-bodies in their blood for at least six months. Earlier, the consensus on viral immune response had considered three months as a minimum period during which one was highly unlikely to be reinfected.

Some people have misinterpreted the guidelines of the vaccine. The fact is that it is a researched based recommendation that people over 60 years of age should not be vaccinated. The clinical trial of vaccine was held on people from 18 to 60 years of age, so as per protocol s, people of same age group should be vaccinated. it doesn’t mean that the vaccine is not safe for people of over 60 years of age. They can be vaccinated once the company releases data regarding clinical trial on them. However ,it needs to be understood that the vaccine is only being administered to front line health care workers who generally retire at the age of 60 from public sector hospitals and the same protocol is being used for private hospitals people over 65 years of age will be vaccinated in the second phase for which even registration of such people has not yet started.

One the hopes that the government time line regarding the procurement of the remaining batches of the vaccines us a realistic one. In the meantime it must prepare the Pakistani public about possible side effects of inoculation so that misinformation does not discourage people from registering. Further, regular updates with disaggregated data about those being inoculated will go a long way towards countering inevitable rumours about elite individuals jumping the queue. Instilling trust in the transparency of the process is critical.
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.