India, Vaccines, And The Underlying Dilemma: Vaccination Drive Temporarily Suspended In The Several States For People Between 18-44 Years, Government Busy Playing The ‘Blame Game’ While Risking The Lives Of Its Citizens

Vaccine Drive Temporarily Suspended

The vaccination drive is temporarily suspended in several states due to the acute shortage of vaccines. Several states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have halted the vaccination drive for people between 18-44. This is acting as a stumbling block in eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic from the nation, as merely 5% of the population is fully vaccinated till now.

The vaccination drive was initiated on 16th January in India, wherein PM Modi claimed it to be the world’s largest vaccination drive. But several shortcomings evinced it to be merely a ‘false claim’ as our PM was busy with some other plans. The rest of the world, on the other hand, is rigorously vaccinating its citizens, and in no time they will be free from the virus. But if the situation prevails as it is in India, then, we may have to continue this struggle for the next 2-3 years, as the top doctor from AIIMS suggested.

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The union ministry announced on Thursday that Sputnik V will be available for public use from the next week. Since the Covishield and Covaxin stocks are exhausting in several states, many people find it difficult to book their vaccination slots. With the introduction of a new vaccine variant, the vaccination drive can be conducted fastly, hence a large number of people can be inoculated.

COVID-19 vaccination temporarily halted in several states

The acute shortage of vaccines in the country has caused a temporary suspension of vaccination drive in several states. People between the age of 18-44 are not endowed with vaccines, and again, the priority has been shifted to 45 above age groups. In a country with such a large youth population, which constitutes nearly 229 million people between the age of 15-24, India is lacking behind for sure. Delhi has temporarily shut Covaxin administration for people between 18-44 due to the ongoing vaccine crisis.

There are numerous reasons why vaccination is temporarily suspended in few states:

1. Inadequate supply of vaccines

Rajesh Tope, health minister of Maharashtra, mentioned that SII has promised to deliver the vaccines in Maharashtra by May 20th. The state will be provided with 1.5 crore Covishield doses. “There is no availability of bulk vaccines developed by the Center for Inoculation for people over the age of 45. Therefore, the state cabinet has decided to divert stock, purchased by a group of 18-44-year-olds, to a group over the age of 45.” for 18-44 years, “said Tope.

Similarly, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia mentioned that Bharat Biotech has already informed the state government, they can’t provide additional Covaxin doses due to the ongoing vaccine crisis. Bharat Biotech has said in a letter that it won’t be able to provide Delhi with additional Covaxin doses under the consultation of government officials. This clearly implies that the central government is responsible for the supply to various states,” Sisodia mentioned.

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2. Second dose prioritized by the government

The delay in vaccination drive across several states has caused a very little number of people to be vaccinated till now. Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister has urged the healthcare professionals and general public to prioritize the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines. He further stressed the fact that India is the first country to reach the 17 crore dose mark within 114 days. Dr. Vardhan further mentioned that 13.6 crore people have been administered with the first dose of vaccine, whereas merely 3.68 crore people are fully vaccinated.

“We need to emphasize on the second dose of vaccination and states should not neglect the people who need the second dose. Seventy percent should be allocated to meet the requirements of the second volume, and 30% should be allocated to the first volume,” he was quoted as saying in a statement,” he mentioned.

3. States importing vaccines from other countries to meet the requirements

Tamil Nadu government has announced that it will procure the vaccines via global tenders. The Rajasthan government is going to follow the same. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana has already opted for global tenders to vaccinate their citizens. Nearly 20 lakh doses of Sputnik V will be imported by the Uttrakhand government next month to vaccinate its citizens.

4. Delay in domestic production of vaccines

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The Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have submitted their production plans over the next four months to the central government. The plan shows that pharmaceutical companies can increase up to 10 crores and 7.8 crore doses respectively in August. Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield based in Hyderabad, developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), are currently being used in India’s inoculation drive to combat coronavirus.

No solution, no alternatives: The blame game continues between the central and state government

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in Union Health ministry, denied all the allegations and accusations of the central government being involved in the purchase of vaccines by the states. Suchitra Ella, Bharat Biotech’s Joint Managing Director, on the other hand, said on Tuesday, that the company has already dispatched the vaccines for 18 states, and they are greatly disheartened as people are complaining about their intentions regarding the COVID-19 vaccines.

BJP, which is currently ruling in the center has been attacked by several state government parties like AAP, Shiv Sena for the shortage of vaccines. The center is being blamed for the export of the vaccines during the initial stage of vaccine production. However, the ruling BJP accused Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday of spreading false information about the vaccine program in India and said more than 84 percent of vaccines sent abroad were part of trade and licensing bills for two Indian producers.

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