Between the rapid dwindling of the second wave of Covid-19 and the warnings of an impending third wave, the institute successfully conducted its first vaccination drive from 21st to 23rd June. The Surana Hospital collaborated with the institute to provide jabs of Covishield to all the campus residents and their families.
The vaccination drive was spearheaded by Prof. Tapanendu Kundu and Prof. George Mathew who were parts of the Covid Vaccination Team. They were helped by the PHO, EMD, Covid Task Force, IIT Hospital and other committees as well. The drive was smooth and free of any major hiccups, ensuring that no one had to wait for more than 30 minutes to get their shot of vaccine.
In total, 4048 people were vaccinated, out of which around 50% were students. The rest included faculty members and their families along with the staff working on campus, like the PHO, Security, EMD, contract workers etc. The total turnout of the drive was approximately 92 percent. A special donation drive was conducted to garner funds for the staff members who could not afford the vaccines. The institute raised around Rs. 7 lacs from alumni and faculty and was able to seamlessly provide vaccines to those in need.
Currently, there is no official data on the number of vaccinated people in the campus due to a large proportion of faculty members going to vaccination centres outside the campus for their shots.
An earlier attempt to get a private hospital to conduct the vaccination camp in the institute failed due to issues related to pricing. The hospital agreed to conduct the camp for which it charged Rs. 1050 for every dose of vaccine. This was above the maximum rate of vaccines, ie- Rs. 780, as set by BMC. In order to avoid complaints to the BMC against the IIT administration, the camp was cancelled. While the Indian government declared free vaccinations for all citizens from 21st June, the Covid Vaccination Team found it extremely difficult to get hospitals to conduct the drive free of cost inside the campus. This was due to the insufficient supply of vaccines in government hospitals and the loss of profits for private hospitals. Thus, left with no other options, the Team had to go forward with a paid vaccination camp conducted by the Surana Hospital, with each dose of Covishield costing Rs. 780.
The Way Forward
Currently, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding how the second dose will be provided to the campus residents. According to Prof. Kundu, the preferred plan of action is to get free vaccines regularly from the government via the IIT Hospital, which is now a government vaccination centre. This way, there would not be any need of conducting another vaccination drive in collaboration with a private hospital. However, if the supply of vaccines continues to remain feeble, the institute would have no choice other than to conduct a second drive with paid vaccines.
With the majority of campus residents at least partially vaccinated, the institute has planned to ease some restrictions on students. The first set of relaxations would come at the hostel level, starting 5th July. Following are some of them that we know about as of now –
- More messes and canteens would be functional.
- For students entering the campus for the first time, a soft quarantine of 7 days in their own hostels would be required. This is only if the student got vaccinated at least 2 weeks prior to coming and tested negative for an RT PCR test on arrival. Else, a hard quarantine would be followed.
- If students travelling outside return to the campus the same day, there will be no quarantine period.
- If students stay outside the campus anywhere in Mumbai for 1 night or more, a soft quarantine of 7 days in their own hostels would be required. This is only if the student got vaccinated at least 2 weeks prior to travelling.
- If students travel outside Mumbai for more than a day, they are required to undergo a soft quarantine of 7 days and show a negative RT PCR test.
Apart from these hostel level relaxations, labs are expected to be up and running soon so that students and professors can resume their research activities. Moreover, the Reboot Committee is expected to start their operation from July. Final year students will remain the top priority like before. Other students will be called back only when the cases continue to fall and a significant percentage of campus residents and incoming students have been fully vaccinated.