Keeping India Safe
In a welcome move, the Centre has now lifted major restrictions imposed on two indigenous Covid-19 vaccines. From May 1, while the Centre will continue to provide vaccines to people aged 45 and above free of cost, citizens aged between 18-44 years can procure vaccines from the market to immunise themselves. Again to make adequate vaccines available in the market, the Central Government has allowed the two vaccine producing companies to sell 50 per cent of its produce to the market. Earlier, the pharma companies were barred from selling vaccines in the market so as to allow the centre to buy the entire amount produced and at the same time take the responsibility of distributing vaccines to various states as per their needs. According to many public health experts, the Centre has taken the most appropriate step by lifting restrictions as the virulent second wave of Covid-19 virus is now threatening to cause more damage than the earlier wave.
As a matter of fact, the last few days observed an average of nearly 1.5 lakh people infected daily, from various quarters demands were raised to remove the restrictions on vaccination. Their arguments were based on the information that many eligible persons were avoiding vaccination whilst others were being denied immunisation. But this was not a correct assessment of the situation, restrictions were imposed on the use of vaccines considering various aspects such as availability of vaccines, logistics, number of persons requiring vaccines on an urgent basis, etc. It was found that to immune its citizens, India needs 10 crore vaccines per month, while the country can only produce 6.2 crore vaccines a month. Faced with such a huge deficit, the Centre imposed restrictions to save vulnerable people like senior citizens and frontline Covid-19 warriors first. Thus, in the first two phases of immunity drive, people belonging to these categories got the jab. The situation appeared under control until the arrival of the second wave. While the vaccination programme covered over 8 per cent population of the country, the second wave came and disturbed all figures. Since April, this communicable disease has been spreading even more alarmingly than before. In such a situation, the need of the hour is to immunise as many people as possible in the quickest time possible and thus the need to lift restrictions and expedite the vaccination process.
After the withdrawal of the restrictions, the shortfall of nearly 4 crore vaccines per month remains the most worrying factor. It is leant that Russia has promised to produce five crore Sputnik-V vaccines per month in India. But it is still not known when Russia will start producing vaccines in India. Many believe that the only way to meet the deficit is to allow other pharma companies to produce the vaccine keeping the patent law in abeyance. The government may consider the proposal favourably. So the need of the hour is to adhere to the Covid-19 protocol till the time India can manage to produce enough vaccines to keep her citizens safe.