This paper first appeared in Indian Public Policy Review 2020, 1(2): 42 – 58
by Shambhavi Naik, Ameya Paleja, Mihir Mahajan, Narayan Ramachandran, Sunila Dixit, Rahul Matthan, Nitin Pai and Pranay Kotasthane
Deploying COVID-19 vaccines once they are available is going to be an unprecedented administrative and logistical challenge. This paper proposes a plan to vaccinate 80% of India’s population by December 2021. We envision this process to be divided into four main stages viz., estimating the need, securing vaccine supply, distributing the vaccines, and post-market surveillance. Broadly, we suggest that essential workers be prioritised for vaccination in the first phase followed by everyone else. We recommend that the government issue a model contract to build manufacturer trust and incentivise ramping up manufacturing capacity. Vaccines can be priced as per market rates with the government subsidising the cost to necessary recipients to ensure equitable access. Along with public-private partnerships and open markets, the government must leverage administrative capacities of Election Commission of India to roll out a nationwide vaccination drive for maximising vaccine coverage. Finally, we recommend post-market vaccine surveillance strategies to obtain data on adverse events and tweak vaccine deployments, when necessary.