Dr Randeep Guleria, chief of Delhi’s All-India Institute of Medical Sciences and a principal member of the centre’s Covid task force, today made a compelling case for taking the vaccine door-to door — an idea the government had decisively negated a little more than 24 hours ago.
“One strategy that we need to look at is reaching out to people,” said Dr Guleria, who also attributed the current surge in infection partly to a new mutant variety.
“We need to develop a strategy where we can reach out to people and give them the vaccination, but doing it in a way that we are confident that we can take care of any adverse effect which happens,” he added, pointing to the one big reason why the Union health ministry had sidestepped the idea.
Door-to-door vaccination was first flagged by officials in Maharashtra, which is witnessing a never-before surge with a high rate of infection and a marginally high mortality rate.
Though the Union health secretary yesterday said there has been no formal request from anyone yet, he added that doing this will not be possible at the moment since “There may be adverse events following vaccination, for which you need to keep a person under watch for 30 minutes”.
Dr Guleria underscored the need for going door-to-door as part of a strategy to contain the surge, which he said is being caused by a new variant of the virus.
While the centre has said there is no evidence tying the surge to a mutation, Dr Guleria said, “the fact that data is not there does not mean it is not happening”.
“It is likely logically that if there is a sudden surge in cases, there is something which is happening which is making the virus more infectious,” he added.
But he also pointed to the laxity that has crept in when it comes to Covid-appropriate behaviour.
“It is likely if there’s a surge in cases, there’s something that the virus has now become more infectious. But it is also that we are allowing that to happen. We are allowing it to spread to our own community because in January and February, when the vaccine rollout started, people said, ‘Now Covid is over in our country’,” he added.