The battle against Covid-19 has reached a decisive phase. We have combated the first two waves of this lethal virus and experts have warned about the impending third wave. But from the experience that we have gained while facing the first two waves, it may not be as difficult to contain the third wave. Success against the third wave too can be achieved by remaining cautious. The need of the hour is to strictly adhere to safety protocols and complete the vaccination process at the earliest. Taking the virus casually at this juncture may prove fatal.
The alarming news currently is that the rate of vaccination in the country is sliding down. The average daily inoculation numbers is on the decline since June 27. In the week of June 21-27, 61 lakh doses were administered daily. But the rate went down to 42 lakh per day in the following week and it further went down to 34 lakh during July 5-11. Although the vaccination process started in India exactly six months ago, thus far less than six per cent of the population has been vaccinated. The rate is very poor in comparison to vaccination rates of most other countries. During the same period, the United Kingdom (UK) has vaccinated 52 per cent of its population, while in the United States of America (USA), 48 per cent of the population has been vaccinated. Even countries like Brazil and Russia are far ahead of India in this context. Surely, something should be done to speed up the rate of inoculation in the country. Otherwise, the plan of vaccinating the entire adult population by year-end will remain a distant dream.
However, it is easier said than done. The country’s nearly 1.45 crore population cannot be vaccinated overnight. Further, enough vaccines are not available to meet India’s requirements. Vaccine makers need to enhance the production to take India closer to the target. There has been a gap between demand and supply from the very beginning. This is why it was initially decided that frontline workers and those above 45 years would get priority. In the beginning, even eligible people were hesitant to be vaccinated. Then it was decided to inoculate the willing persons to prevent wastage of doses. Since then the shortage of vaccines has become extremely acute.
It’s a pity that effort from certain quarters are being made to create a wrangle between the Centre and the states over the shortage of vaccine without considering the ground realities. In India, the Central Government can make plans and the states implement those plans due to the federal nature of the political system. Thus, instead of accusing each other, both the Centre and the states should sit together to resolve the issue. A committee comprising experts from both sides should be constituted to allocate vaccines to the states after carefully examining the requirements. Otherwise, the ongoing blame game will derail India’s initiatives against this deadly virus.