Vaccination dilemma - GulfToday

Vaccination dilemma


An official displays a vial containing Covid-19 vaccine COVISHIELD manufactured by Serum Institute of India. Reuters

It is encouraging that the Serum Institute India, is applying for permission to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), to sell Covishield commercially to private parties. This is a step in the right direction. If vaccine producers are allowed to sell to private hospitals, corporations, etc., then it will improve availability significantly. Governments in many countries have found it difficult to disburse vaccines throughout the countries expeditiously. So, it would be pragmatic to let the private sector contribute.

In all the hot spots in Europe and in Indian cities like Mumbai city, when lockdowns are deployed, the health departments should undertake a “storming operation”. During that period, vaccinations should be carried out in homes and residential complexes. Some state governments are keen to vaccinate bed-ridden patients and senior citizens at their homes. This should commence immediately. State governments should not need the permission of the Central Government, for such logistical matters. Over-centralisation will slow-down the vaccination drive. Then, the disease will spread.

Moreover, India must focus on maintaining adequate stocks of the vaccines. Three large hospitals in Mumbai were out-of-stock of the vaccines on the 7 April. There is no point in exporting vaccines, when only 6.4 percent of the Indian population have received it in 11 weeks. At this rate, it will be four years before the entire country is vaccinated.

The sharp rise in number of cases in Mumbai and Maharashtra and the consequent declaration of night curfew and weekend lockdowns, underscores the need for accelerating the vaccination drive. It is also a lesson to other states, that any lackadaisicalness in vaccinations will invite wild spread of the disease and further lockdowns.

Rajendra Aneja
Mumbai, India

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