Saturday, Mar 06, 2021 07:45 [IST]
Last Update: Saturday, Mar 06, 2021 02:13 [IST]
Do we have enough Covid vaccines to cover our entire population? Is the vaccine being provided to all sections of the society as promised by the government? Or it’s just an eye wash. The government has some explaining to do. The Delhi High Court on Thursday observed that the two institutes, which have developed the two vaccines Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have more capacity but don’t seem to be exploiting that.
The Court directed the central government to explain the rationale for keeping “strict control” over the class of persons who can be vaccinated at present against Covid-19. The court observed that the government was either donating the vaccines or selling them to foreign countries “rather than” inoculating its own people, when its approach should in fact be to vaccinate Indians urgently — “yesterday and not tomorrow”.
We are not utilising it fully. We are either doling out vaccines to foreign countries or selling it to them and are not vaccinating our own people. But, what is needed is a sense of responsibility and urgency. This is what the Court had to say. The High Court further directed the two institutes to file separate affidavits listing their capacity to manufacture vaccines per day/ week/ month and how much of that capacity is lying idle.
They also need to indicate whether they can scale up their production capacities, the Court said. The Bench also asked the Centre to explain the rationale behind keeping strict control over the class of persons who can be vaccinated – such as those above the age of 60 years or with comorbidities. An affidavit is to be filed by the Union government disclosing the rationale for such classification. The ongoing second phase of vaccination covers individuals older than 60 years and those between ages 45 and 60 with associated comorbidities. Healthcare and frontline workers were vaccinated in the first phase that began on January 16.
The rollout of the Covid vaccine on March 1 for a vulnerable segment — above 60 years of age and those with certain ailments in the 45-59-year age bracket — marks the crucial second phase of the vaccination programme, putting to test the government’s claims of preparedness. The chaos and glitches seen on Day One can be attributed to teething troubles of a massive operation. The government facilities (providing the shots free of cost) and private players roped in (at a cost of Rs 250 per dose to a beneficiary) to cover the huge population have the challenging task of quickly ironing out the creases. All those queuing up to get the jabs, like the socially responsible elderly section of our population often accompanied by their younger attendants, should not be inconvenienced. The problems plaguing the government’s CoWin portal for registration or the confusion over walk-ins are a setback to the careful logistics set in place.
Given that over 10 crore people across the country are targeted to be given the shots in this phase, on its smooth run hinges a faster road to the much-needed herd immunity. The recent spike in Covid-19 cases has sparked a renewed urgency to control the run of the pathogen before it balloons into a second wave. The inoculation must outpace the virus.