The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India has turned into turmoil. PM Modi announced India’s vaccination drive as the world’s largest drive and celebrated it with full pride. But after a while, it lost its charm. The massive export of vaccines to other countries while endangering the Indians to the pernicious virus, made it all a big mess! According to the data by the government officials, over 180 million doses have been administered to Indian citizens since 16th January (beginning of vaccination drive).
But don’t fall these numbers. India‘s current population is 1,391 million, which clearly indicates that not even 15% of the population is fully vaccinated yet. Merely 3% of the population are fully jabbed, and to achieve herd immunity, India needs to cover the vaccination of 60-80% of its population.
So, it is of no doubt that India would take 5-6 years to fully vaccinate its citizens if the drive continues at the current pace. But sadly, the vaccination drive is losing its pace every passing day. The rigorous vaccination of the citizens occurred in April, wherein 24 million doses were administered within a week. In May, merely 12 million vaccine doses have been administered over 2 weeks!
The situation is worrisome and the situation is getting out of control. The third wave of COVID, which is said to be lethal to children, and can only be avoided if the vaccines are administered on time for kids. But even the 45+ age group is not fully vaccinated yet and struggling to get access to it, so forget about the children. Some people are hesitating to take vaccines due to various superstitions, lack of knowledge, beliefs, and fake news been circulated all around social media.
But the primary concern remains the same, and that is, the supply of vaccines. Many people are desperate to get vaccinated, looking for the vacant slot throughout the day. But they can’t get it since there is a very limited number of vaccines available at the centers. If you are already vaccinated by the time you are reading this article, consider yourself lucky! As the government continues its claim and living in denial that there is no shortage of vaccines, it is pretty evident by looking at the current situation of the country.
More than 66 million doses of vaccines were exported to other nations while forgetting about the existence of their citizens by the government. Nevertheless, the government isn’t ready to accept their mistake and continues to give false hopes to the Indias.
India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive in a nutshell
Since mid-April, the government has wanted to change its ways. Introducing a new ‘free and fast’ vaccination strategy, although many questions have been raised about how well the revised system works. Also, after mobilization by citizens, provinces, and the Supreme Court, the Indian government – for the first time – has set a goal of believing that adequate measures will be available to all citizens.
At a press conference on May 13, VIT Paul of NITI Aayog said, “there will be two billion doses in the country in five months in India and the people of India. The vaccine will be available to all as we move forward.” India has over 1 billion adult population of 1 billion, and the vaccines which have rolled out in the market require 2 doses for full vaccination. There is a vaccine wastage also associated with it, which would 2.16 billion as calculated by the NITI Ayog. But are these figures trustworthy? Let us find it out.
The government also announced in January that India has successfully defeated the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second wave is unlikely to hit the country. They stated ‘herd immunity as a reason for this statement. This statement turned out to be a big lie as the second wave of COVID-19 in India was the deadliest COVID-19 wave ever experienced in the world. The daily cases touched a record of as high as 4.14 lakhs, and death figures are insanely high. We are not stating the death figures here because the government concealed the real figures.
As per their records, they were more than 4,000 a day, but looking back at that situation, it would have been more than 10,000 a day. The crematoriums were running so short that 30-50 bodies had to be cremated together. Similarly, the data of the vaccination drive have been concealed by the government, and it is losing its steam, so do you still expect India to cover its vaccination drive for adults by 2021?
The fact check
The central government is showing very little transparency in the vaccination data, allowing the government to hold them accountable. Now the citizens have been held accountable as the government is stepping back from its mistakes. Following that, the center mentioned 8 vaccines to be rolled out in the year 2021, but currently, in India, only 3 vaccines are available, i.e., Covaxin, Covishield, and Sputnik V.
The uncertainty still goes around regarding the other 5 vaccines. Two of them, a special Bharat Biotech vaccine, and one Gennova mRNA, are at the beginning of the clinical trial process. Although the world has seen significant progress in drug development in the short term over the past year and a half, there have been some omissions or findings that are not working well. For the rest, three other manufacturers – Novavax, Biological E, and Zydus Cadilla – are very close to seeing if they can be approved for their vaccines.
In context, Novavax was one of the first manufacturers to sign deals promising to supply hundreds of millions of doses to countries around the world, including India, by 2020. But apart from positive numbers from clinical trials, the company was struggling to get accreditation and announced in May that it would take at least until July to be cleared in the United States.
These figures are overestimated and optimistic, so the real data from the vaccine manufacturers is still awaited. How is that so? Let us show you. The Serum Institute of India, which is producing Covishield, an Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, was estimated to produce more than 750 million doses between August and December. But now, the company is struggling to make even 60-70 million doses per month with constant odd statements regarding their actual capacity of vaccine production.
Nevertheless, the company claimed to produce 100 million doses by the end of July. Also, all the vaccines produced by the Indians would not be exclusively available to the Indians. Will the government allow the SII to export vaccines before the end of December? The choice of policy here is complicated, as several developing countries rely entirely on COVAX and the ban on exports to India has left them vulnerable. But the Indian government came under pressure with its vaccination procedures earlier this year and boasted of exporting more doses than it had spent at home. Will its efforts to create an image from the beginning of the year, can put it on the edge of policy now?