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Baseline Reality

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According to a report, nine new dollar billionaires emerged in the world over the past year – all belonging to the Pharma industry. This is an indication of how the Covid-19 pandemic has been a windfall for certain sections of the global economy. Having developed the vaccines necessary to counter the virus, the companies have been playing hardball with consumers and nations to obtain the best prices and other concessions. In the early stages, the relatively wealthy nations hoarded vaccines to ensure there were no domestic shortages, causing poorer nations even greater difficulties. A situation has been reached that, in the United States, the problem is not of supply but of getting a large section of people to overcome vaccine hesitancy. These vaccines may expire but not become available to people elsewhere who need them desperately.

Had India not the capacity to develop its own vaccines, it would have been in a very difficult situation with its enormous population. Similar is the case with much of the equipment and medicines needed to combat the virus. If public behaviour had corresponded with the needs of the situation, India could have almost independently worked its way out of the pandemic. It can be said that this is comprises the baseline upon which the nation is functioning, at present.

It is in this background that a new element is added to a raging, largely political, argument on how the pandemic is to be handled. In the wisdom of hindsight, it has become the fad to question decisions taken by the Government of India over a year ago. Every new discovery about the virus, or development regarding vaccine availability, is being quoted to muddy the waters. The courts, right up to the highest level, have also thought it appropriate to meddle in the process, making the most arbitrary demands and establishing principles nowhere related to the reality on the ground.

It has become difficult for administrators to keep up with these changing directions and norms. It is necessary, therefore, for all to understand the baseline reality and appreciate what could have been. Without giving credit where it is due and acknowledging what has been achieved, it is not possible to take the game forward. It is not possible to re-engineer a plane while it is in flight merely because an advance in technology has been reported somewhere. It must be appreciated that there are many scientific developments taking place in India, itself, that could dramatically change the scenario just a few months down the line. Ultimately, it is necessary to understand that there are no certainties to confidently act upon except our own capabilities.