The Vaccine Quagmire

Rahul Sinha

While the second wave of COVID-19 has hit India harder than any other country, there has been a multi-dimensional effect of the pandemic, which has pushed India into an unprecedented spiral. The Wholesale Price Index is marked at its highest in 8 years, Rise in unemployment, Lack of domestic funds, Increased school dropout rates and the rising level of poverty has been some key areas of concern for the present government.

Major policy failures and lack of precautionary measures are the reasons for which India has landed in this no-win situation.

Optimists may think that India is trying its best to cope up with the pandemic using its responsive measures but the current scenario is noting better than a dead end of the doomed tunnel.

Amidst all the hullabaloo, there was some hope in form of the vaccine.

But, the strict adherence to the so-called "Atmanirbharbharat" Policy Modi didn't let the nation to be liberal enough to approve and import more vaccines.

A nation with an approximate population of 966 million adults will require around 1932 million doses of vaccines. Even if the highest authority thinks of vaccinating all the adults by 12 months, the per day production of vaccine vials must be around 5 million per day.

The combined production of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech is around 3.8 million vials per day from which 15% is moved aside for prior diplomatic commitments, the figures are self-explanatory.

There has also been great amount of inefficiency and inequality due to lack of transparency. According to the Article 21 which had been passed by the mandate of the supreme court, free vaccine is an implicit component of the right to life and personal liberty but charging for vaccine and rising misinformation has made it unaffordable for a large section of the population and resulted in vaccine swithering. Lack of investment in the capacity expansion of public sector vaccine companies is another questionable step which the government had decided to take.

While China spends 2% and US spends 8% of its GDP on healthcare development, India is bounded within a mere amount of 1% for expenditure on health. According to a report by EPW, around 70% of the health spending of Indians is out of their own pockets which is one of the highest compared to other countries in the world. While the World Health Organisation recommends an 1:1000 doctor to patients ratio and 1:300 nurse to patients ratio, The Centre manages to have 1 doctor for 1511 people and 1 nurse for 670 people approximately, India also has 1.4 hospital beds per 1000 people as compared to 3 beds in USA and around 4 beds in China. This pretty well explains the urgent need of funds for the development of the infrastructure of the healthcare sector.

Keeping these factors in mind, one can't emphasise enough on the need of revised, corrective, responsive measures that the government must consider.

Factors like availability of health care facilities, ease in vaccination process, unrestricted and free state-central communication and investment in capacity expansion of the public sector must be re-considered by the authorities. Keeping all the politics aside, the primary objective of the government must be providing optimal recovering facilities to all the stakeholders of the nation.


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Vol. 53, No. 47-52, & Vol 54, No. 1 - 4, May 23 - July 31, 2021