The World’s largest vaccination drive by Sherral Joseph

Tomorrow is a big day for India, as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will launch the pan-India rollout of 2 COVID 19  vaccines Covaxin and Covishield,  as they get formally approved for  what could be the world’s largest vaccination drive.  The launch will be held at 10.30 am virtually by the Prime Minister and will be covering 3006 session sites across all states and UTs virtually.

The vaccines developed by the Astra Zeneca with Oxford University and local firm Bharat Biotech will be part of the drive that could inoculate about 300 million people on priority basis this year.   Nationwide mock drills have been conducted to prepare healthcare workers for the vaccination drive. In Tamil Nadu, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan supervised the dry run operations during his visit to Tamil Nadu in the first week of Jan.

The Covishield vaccine which is developed by Astra Zeneca with Oxford University is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.  The Institute is currently producing 50 million doses a month and according to its CEO Adar Poonawalla, is aiming for a production of 100 million does a month after regulatory approval.

The online platform being used to monitor vaccination stocks, storage temperature and individual tracking of beneficiaries for COVID 19 is Co-WIN.  A dedicated 24/7 call center -1075 has been established to address all queries related to the software, vaccine roll-out and the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Health Ministry announced that Bharat Biotech plans to donate 16.5 lakh worth of vaccines and is charging the government only for 55 lakh doses at Rs.206 per dose. The Serum Institute of India is charging Rs. 200 per dose for 1.1 crore doses.  (as published by moneycontrol.com)

Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020

A landmark policy initiative written by Chayan Sen

A landmark policy initiative, ‘Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020’ (STIP 2020) has been initiated.  The recent advancements in the global and national STI landscape, STIP 2020 aims to reorient STI efforts in terms of priorities, sectoral focus, and strategies. It aims to revisit and re-energize the way research is conducted; technologies developed and deployed with the goals of larger socio-economic progress and welfare. This is only the fifth national science, technology, and innovation policy of/for India. The others were :

  1. The Science Policy Resolution 1958 (SPR 1958) which aimed to “foster, promote and sustain” the “cultivation of science and scientific research in all its aspects”
  2. The Technology Policy Statement 1983 (TPS 1983) which emphasized the need to attain technological competence and self-reliance.
  3. The Science and Technology Policy 2003 (STP 2003) which brought the benefits of Science and Technology to the forefront and focused on the investment required for research and development along with the national innovation system.
  4. The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2013 (STIP 2013) which focused on the large demographic dividend and set the paradigm “Science technology and innovation for the people.”

STIP 2020 revolves around the core principles of being decentralized, evidence informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and being inclusive. Also, it aims to bring inthe concept of ‘dynamic policy’ with a robust policy governance mechanism incorporating features such as periodic review, policy evaluation, feedback, adaptation and most importantly, a timely exit strategy for various policy instruments.

STIP 2020 policy formulation framework involves 4 detailed tracks of activities and a coordination mechanism through a centralized secretariat. These are as follows:

Track-I involves extended public and expert consultation with larger public participation. It aims to capture the aspirations of a larger set of stakeholders and create a repository of public voices that will act as a guiding force for the drafting process.

Track-II involves focused experts-driven thematic group consultations to feed evidence-informed recommendations into the policy drafting process

Track-III connects ministries, departments, and states to this policy process through a designated nodal officer. This track involves extensive intra-state and intra-department/ministry consultations

Track-IV brings institutional coherence by integrating inputs from all the tracks. This track is the binding force that draws upon the apex-level multi-stakeholder engagement at the national as well as global levels.

The background preparatory work in all the 4 tracks helps us in capturing the larger stakeholder voices and results in identifying a broader set of priority issues, recommendations, ideas, and suggestions to shape up the STI ecosystem of the country with a futuristic outlook.