By Vijay Darda | 31-05-2021
Government claims to achieve total vaccination in the country by December, but statistics tell a different story altogether!
There’s only one question on everyone’s lips: How long will it take for the country to achieve total vaccination? The government is claiming that everyone will be vaccinated by December, but the opposition parties are disputing it by pointing out how erroneous the claim is. The common man is confused as to what the reality is. He is not sure whether his turn for the jab will come by December at all, given the shortage of vaccines across the nation.
I always tell the people who ask such questions that we should trust our government. If the Prime Minister or ministers say something, there must be some logic behind it! I had also written earlier in this column that the Prime Minister does not belong to any party but the entire country and he talks in the interest of the nation. I still believe this to be the case. But I also think that the officials should put the right and accurate information before the Prime Minister.
Whatever figures are doled out by the government, they should stand the scrutiny. Today, the common man is apprehensive as to where one crore doses every day, i.e. 30 crore doses every month, will come from July onwards to achieve the target? The question also seems legitimate because the figures don’t testify to it. A person in my presence challenged the official data and worked out arithmetic, saying that 90 crore people above the age of 18 years will need a total of 180 crore doses to get vaccinated, while the total number of doses given so far has not reached even the 23 crore mark!
Serum Institute of India is currently producing 6.5 crore doses of Covishield every month. Let us assume that according to the promise, this number will reach 10 crore in June. Bharat Biotech has the capacity to produce 2.5 crore to 3 crore doses per month right now and is expected to deliver 6 crore doses in October. Add to it the vaccines of Sputnik V and other companies to be approved in future; if you add 4 crore doses, then even in October the total figure does not go up to more than 20-22 crore doses per month. And we will not accept vaccines from China, because we don’t trust that country. We don’t know what they will mix in the vaccine before sending it to us and we will get to know about its ill-effects only after a long time.
Now let’s also assume that the government wants to buy vaccines from companies in other countries too, but will those companies supply according to our needs? They would have their own commitments to fulfil. We did not even talk about buying vaccines from them in the initial stage. In such a situation, how can anyone trust the assurance of nationwide vaccination by December? People are saying that they know about the shortage of vaccines and are also aware about the production capacity. In such a situation, where the reality is disputing the claim, it is but natural that confusion will reign supreme.
The common man should be presented with the right picture so that he can face the situation with patience. Faced with the non-availability of the vaccines, naturally they are losing patience given that the virus is still around. In Maharashtra, people in the 18-44 age group are not being vaccinated, and wherever a few doses are available, people are not able to book the slot. No one knows when the slot booking opens. Thus, things are really chaotic.
Those over 45 years of age are also facing problems in getting their first shot. I have seen a BJP MP who is also a doctor himself, scurrying for the second dose. At the moment when I am writing this column, his hospital has not received the vaccine for the second dose. Just think how upset the common man is! The Central government is supplying some vaccines to the states but has asked them to buy the rest from the manufacturers! Where to buy it from when the vaccine itself is not available? As a result, vaccination of the youths has been suspended in many states, the fact that most of the victims in the second wave of coronavirus are youths notwithstanding!
Today, if people are assuming that the government has been at fault on the vaccination front, it is not wrong. Even at the international level, India’s image has taken a beating. In the initial stage, India sent consignments of vaccines to neighbouring countries. The vaccines were sent even to the remotest of countries through the World Health Organisation, but now India is not able to fulfil its own commitment. It is noteworthy that India has goodwill at the international level and is looked upon as a leader. Why did we land in such a situation today that even the World Health Organisation is saying that India is not able to fulfil its commitment of 20 crore doses? After all, something has gone wrong somewhere! We have failed to assess the situation with accuracy.
Now the need of the hour is for the Government of India to ensure complete transparency in this matter. The citizens should know the truth because the common man is engaged in the actual battle against Covid-19 pandemic and he alone has to fight it. If the common man gets the right information, he will be able to gear himself up well to take on the pandemic. And yes, some mischievous elements in the rural areas are spreading superstition and myths about vaccines. Misinformation about the safety and effects of Covid-19 vaccines is scaring off some villagers, discouraging them from getting vaccinated. There is an urgent need to dispel myths and deal firmly with those spreading misinformation about the life-saving jab. Nationwide vaccination awareness campaign needs to be undertaken so that we do not lose steam in the battle against the pandemic.