India's pragmatic vaccination strategy against COVID-19: a mathematical modelling-based analysis.


To investigate the impact of targeted vaccination strategies on morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19, as well as on the incidence of SARS-CoV-2, in India.

Mathematical modelling.

An age-structured dynamical model describing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in India incorporating uncertainty in natural history parameters was constructed.

Country-specific and age-segregated pattern of social contact, case fatality rate and demographic data obtained from peer-reviewed literature and public domain.

Comparison of different vaccine strategies by targeting priority groups such as keyworkers including healthcare professionals, individuals with comorbidities (24-60 years old) and all above 60.

Indian epidemic of COVID-19 and vulnerable population.

Incidence reduction and averted deaths in different scenarios, assuming that the current restrictions are fully lifted as vaccination is implemented.

An appropriately targeted vaccination strategy would witness substantial mitigation of impact of COVID-19 in a country like India with wide heterogeneity. 'Smart vaccination', based on public health considerations, rather than mass vaccination, appears prudent.

The priority groups together account for about 18% of India's population. An infection-preventing vaccine with 60% efficacy covering all these groups would reduce peak symptomatic incidence by 20.6% (95% uncertainty intervals (UI) 16.7-25.4) and cumulative mortality by 29.7% (95% CrI 25.8-33.8). A similar vaccine with ability to prevent symptoms (but not infection) will reduce peak incidence of symptomatic cases by 10.4% (95% CrI 8.4-13.0) and cumulative mortality by 32.9% (95% CrI 28.6-37.3). In the event of insufficient vaccine supply to cover all priority groups, model projections suggest that after keyworkers, vaccine strategy should prioritise all who are >60 and subsequently individuals with comorbidities. In settings with weakest transmission, such as sparsely populated rural areas, those with comorbidities should be prioritised after keyworkers.

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Mandal S, Arinaminpathy N, Bhargava B, Panda S. (2021). India's pragmatic vaccination strategy against COVID-19: a mathematical modelling-based analysis. BMJ open, 11(7)