- The Union Government has caved in under the pressure exerted from all around in expanding the vaccine beneficiaries by including the category of 18 years to 45 years despite fully aware of the production capacities of the two approved jabs. The Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are the two approved vaccines where 90% of the inoculation drive is driven by the former. People in the know would vouch that the vaccination drive underway has not only been slow-paced from the beginning but also is encountering supply-related challenges owing to the huge demand with the inclusion of beneficiaries.
PC: Surabhi Shaurya
- As the opposition mounted pressure increased, the Union Government in its unpalatable wisdom decided to include the young adults announcing the benefits will be available from 01st May onwards. Though the decision was welcomed by all concerned, especially the medical community and the experts associated with the field, there was always a case for considering whether the production line is adequately strengthened to ensure continuity in the supply of vaccines. It is given to understand that the production capacity of the SII cannot be expanded beyond 7-8 crore per month and the Biotech’s 1-2 crore per month despite efforts to ramp up in the interim.
- Come to think of it, the latest beneficiaries added amounts to almost 61% of the country’s demography thereby placing a tremendous strain on the vaccine infrastructure to deliver on expected lines. The policymakers should have deliberated on this aspect considering all statistics, availability of critical ingredients, and equitable distribution of the produced vaccines to all states based on their requirements. Note that there is a huge backlog of people already in receipt of the first dose not getting appointments for their long-overdue second doses. Inconsistent supplies combined with healthcare warriors getting increasingly engaged to attend to the second wave patients have severely dented the vaccination efforts as well.
PC: Jane Byrne
- In addition to the abovementioned, there are also those 45 years and above yet to receive their first dose owing to bottlenecks witnessed from different fronts. Anticipating severe disruptions in the supply chains, many states are not certain about commencing the scheduled drive from 01st May involving new beneficiaries. One cannot hold the states responsible for the move as they must spend energies on both fronts vis-à-vis combating rising infection cases bringing in thousands to the hospitals as also carrying out vaccination sessions with limited supplies to dispense. In hindsight, the Union Government could have waited out for at least a few more months before including the younger lot to receive the vaccine shots.
- By sticking to its earlier plans, the authorities would have bought precious time allowing the vaccine producers to ramp up production as also ensuring the vulnerable category of people too would receive their second dose as well as the first dose, respectively ensuring the protective shield is complete. It is a no-brainer to visualize nothing but absolute chaos ensuing in the coming days leading to even more vitriolic attacks from the opposition quarters targeting the Union Government for its questionable endeavors.