India's Vaccination Policy : The Fiasco

From May 1, India has significantly extended its vaccine coverage to include all above

the age of 18. Several vaccination implementation updates are included in the fourth

step of the mass immunization initiative. The Centre procured the entire quantity of

vaccines from the manufacturers, Serum Institute of India (Covishield) and Bharat

Biotech (Covaxin), and administered it to states within the first three stages, when

healthcare staff, frontline workers, and those above the age of 45 were vaccinated. The

states allocated the stock to government vaccination centers, which provided the

vaccine free of charge, as well as private hospitals, which paid recipients Rs 250 per

injection.



(Image Credits- MoneyControl)


Beginning May 1, the production was split into two baskets: 50% for the Centre and

50% for the free market. To begin, the 50% basket of vaccine doses earmarked for

states and private clinics on the open market will be used to vaccinate those over the

age of 18. Second, the free vaccine will be available at all vaccination centers that

collect doses from the Government of India; with these doses, healthcare staff,

frontline workers, and those above the age of 45 will be vaccinated.


Why Is Vaccine Development Too Slow?


In the absence of a straightforward clarification or evidence from the government, the solution must be taken from other sources of knowledge. Serum Institute, for

example, recently announced that it had obtained orders from the central government for 26 crore doses. 15 crore doses had been given, with another 11 crore doses to be supplied in the coming months.



(Image Credits- Newslaundry)


Following the announcement of the latest vaccine scheme, states and private

hospitals requested 11 crore Covishield doses, which will be distributed over the next

few months. Bharat Biotech has not released any production or order results.

However, according to a recent government release, the most recent order imposed

with the vaccine manufacturer was for 2 crore doses, and another 5 crore doses will be

supplied in May, June, and July. It is unclear whether the central government has only placed limited orders so far. It is also unclear why advance payments or loans were not made available to the two producers well in advance so that they could ramp up production. However, the government compensated the two producers on April 28 for orders due in the next three months. Perhaps this will assist them in funding increased capacity.


India's vaccine diplomacy comes at a time when the international community is

concerned about ‘vaccine nationalism' and rising inequity in vaccine supply. Many

developed nations have been chastised by the WHO for stockpiling vaccines, leaving

nothing for lower- and low-income countries. As countries struggle for supplies,

many are looking to India to fill accessibility and supply holes. India is also at the

forefront of efforts to level the playing field for vaccine production and supply,

particularly for developing countries. India and South Africa have appealed to the WTO for an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and patents for the duration of the pandemic, or before other countries' citizens have been vaccinated. If the movement gathers traction, several OECD nations, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union – both of which have vaccinations in use – have expressed opposition.


Bibliography


● https://www.bloombergquint.com/coronavirus-outbreak/indias-covid-vaccin

e-policy-all-you-need-to-know

● https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/india-vaccine-policy-covid-19-s

erum-covaxin-7283776/

● https://www.deccanherald.com/national/all-you-need-to-know-about-indias

-new-covid-19-vaccine-policy-977127.html

● https://theprint.in/opinion/global-print/indias-vaccine-diplomacy-is-falling

-apart-why-pm-modi-cant-convince-eu-to-waive-patents/656410/

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/who-chief-slams-vaccinediplomacy-in-covid-fight/articleshow/82542370.cms

● https://www.bloombergquint.com/coronavirus-outbreak/how-long-will-it-ta

ke-for-india-to-vaccinate-18-44-year-olds

● https://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/08/04/2021/indias-vaccine-diplom

acy

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