INDIA’S Covid-19 vaccination drive has completed six months, but less than 6 per cent of the country’s population has been fully inoculated so far. In stark contrast, the UK and the US have completely vaccinated 52 per cent and 48 per cent of their people, respectively. Among the other worst-hit countries, Brazil and Russia are also doing better than India. The statistics are even more worrying when it comes to the average daily inoculation, which has been on the decline since June 21, when the new phase of universal vaccination was launched. Over 61 lakh doses were administered daily during June 21-27; the average fell to around 42 lakh doses in the subsequent week and further dropped to nearly 34 lakh during July 5-11.
Several states have red-flagged shortage of vaccines, with the Delhi government closing hundreds of vaccination centres due to unavailability of stocks. Inoculation sessions were suspended in the majority of Rajasthan’s districts earlier this week in view of paucity of shots. There is no denying that the states cannot step up the vaccination rate if they have to scramble for supplies on a daily basis. The onus is on the Centre to arrange the doses as per the respective needs of the states.
It’s a pity that Centre-state wrangling is rearing its ugly head at a time when the country needs to be well prepared for the third wave. With the WHO warning against ‘mixing and matching’ of vaccines in the absence of foolproof scientific evidence, the Union government faces the uphill task of arranging adequate stocks of Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik-V. The vaccine makers need to drastically ramp up production if India is to come anywhere near achieving the target of vaccinating its entire adult population by the year-end. On their part, the states should make judicious use of the stocks. Only Kerala and West Bengal have recorded ‘negative wastage’ — both are not only ensuring zero wastage but also managing to save and administer an extra dose from each vial. In short, every stakeholder has to chip in to give India a fighting chance against Covid.
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