India entered another crucial phase in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic as registrations began for vaccinating those above the age of 18. It is expected that vaccination of this section of the populace will begin in most states of the country on the due date of 1 May. It may be noted that, while around eighty percent of Covid fatalities are from among the plus 55 years segment, the remaining number comprises those even in their early twenties. It has generally been accepted, thus far, that the primary cause for deaths from the virus is comorbidities, which are found mostly among the aged. Healthy people are expected to survive the infection because of higher immunity levels. The large number of young fatalities indicates, perhaps, that the danger has increased for this section.
This makes it all the more necessary that the young turn out for the vaccination. It has been seen, however, that vaccine hesitancy continues to exist even among the better off sections. This is not only being encouraged by conspiracy theorists on social media, but also results from political inclinations. It can only be expected, for instance, that those influenced by the Samajawadi Party ideology would take Akhilesh Yadav’s unwillingness to take the ‘BJP vaccine’ quite seriously. The politics that has been played from the start regarding the vaccine, its price, distribution, source, etc., has naturally created impediments. The population will pay a heavy price for it.
As India gets its act together on issues like supply of oxygen and ventilators supply, it needs to also check the spread by undertaking measures such as curfews and enforcement of other guidelines. It has been seen that the performance differs at the level of states – some have done better than others. This lacuna needs to be corrected with regard to the ‘universal’ vaccination drive. There are bound to be problems such as delayed supply, shortages, mismanagement at individual outlets, but these need to be overcome in a determined and united manner. Those lamenting the deaths that have taken place should not forget that the battle continues and energy must be spent on doing rather than just apportioning blame. The time for that will come. Disasters happen and, like the earthquake in Assam on Wednesday, come without warning. An ordered and disciplined society is best situated to deal with them. Loved ones must be remembered but the best tribute to them would be to save the lives of future victims.