Despite the ‘shortages’ caused by supply chain problems, the number of vaccinations overall continue to rise on a daily basis in India. On the first day of the ‘Tika Utsav’, the number crossed the 40 lakh per day mark. Having recently opened the vaccination drive for all over 45 years of age, the government has received flak on two fronts – the shortages at various centres in some states, as well as the ‘failure’ to make jabs available for all adults. Such criticism ignores the complex requirements of the already massive exercise underway. Any laxity in monitoring and controlling supply will lead to racketeers entering the game – fake vaccines will flood the market. This will be particularly so if – as suggested by some enthusiasts – it is provided by every clinic and chemist. The consequences would be disastrous.
The idea, of course, is to ramp up properly regulated outlets, while at the same time increasing supply of vaccines. On Monday, the government gave approval to the Sputnik V vaccine, even as others are in the pipeline. This will not just increase supply considerably but also expand the vaccine manufacturing base in India. This will put the nation in a position very soon to ramp up the vaccination drive as desired.
In the meanwhile, state governments across the country are facing the very difficult challenge of managing the sudden surge of Covid infections as well as deaths. People will very strongly resist lockdowns of the kind that took place last year, because they cannot afford it and no longer have the psychological resolve to endure the consequences. The Union Government and experts have already advised that, instead, mini containment zones are the way to go. This means that the general public will not suffer due to the situation in some particular area. Even the whiff of possible lockdowns had the Sensex crashing on Monday, because every activity has an economic context. People will have to learn how to adopt lifestyles that protect them from getting infected. The improved situation of just a couple of weeks ago had encouraged people to drop even the simplest protocols. These will have to be strictly brought back.
The sudden and corresponding rise in the number of deaths is also perplexing. Could it be that people dying of other causes just also happen to be Covid positive and are being counted as the pandemic’s victims? Also, over the past year, should not doctors have become better at treating Covid victims? Are the poorer sections of society going to hospitals only when the infection is an advanced stage? The shortcomings in this regard really need to be examined and addressed.