9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 14, 2021

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India’s Vaccine exports are guided by good diplomacy and good epidemiology

Source: The Indian Express 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health


The vaccine exports by India have not obstructed its efforts in tackling the Covid-19 outbreak. Rather it is a strategy guided by good diplomacy, good economics and good epidemiology. That is immensely beneficial for the country. 


  • As of May 11, India exported 663.698 lakh vaccine doses to foreign countries. Out of this, 16% was sent as aid, 54% as commercial supplies and 30% as part of WHO’s COVAX program.
  • These exports have drawn criticism from various experts. As they believe that exports are creating vaccine shortages in India. However, there exist multiple reasons which induced the government to export vaccines.

Reasons behind vaccine exports:

  • First, out of the 107.15 lakh doses sent as aid, 78.5 lakh doses (73.26 per cent) have been sent to just seven neighbouring countries. This is good epidemiology. As it is essential to vaccinate India’s immediate neighbours for its own pandemic control measures.
  • Second, approximately 14% of commercial supplies are sent to the U.K. India not only has a legal duty but also a moral duty to supply the vaccine. As the Covishield vaccine is manufactured by India based on a licence granted by Oxford – AstraZeneca partnership.
  • Third, two lakh doses are sent as aid to the UN peacekeeping force. This will help in the vaccination of 6600 Indians deployed there. Similarly, 12.5% of commercial supplies are sent to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia possesses a large Indian diaspora.
  • Fourth, there is an international obligation to supply the vaccines under COVAX initiative of WHO. 
    • The COVAX program aims to ensure rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all the countries around the world.
    • Being a participant, India is itself entitled to receive nearly 97 million doses of Covishield through the COVAX facility at affordable prices.
  • Fifth, vaccine production requires imports of various inputs from multiple countries that are part of the complex supply chain network. Hence, the suppliers of raw materials will also deserve some portion of the final product.

This is why India’s vaccine exports are considered as good diplomacy, good economics and good epidemiology.

Various steps to enhance vaccine availability in India:

  • The government has provided support of approximately Rs 200 crore to boost vaccine production. This will help to improve the current manufacturing rate of Covaxin by 10 times in the coming months. Currently, 10 million doses are produced in a month.
  • The government has also provided special regulatory dispensation. This allows emergency use authorisation of foreign-made Covid-19 vaccines. This facility will be available only for Covid-19 vaccines approved for emergency use by credible foreign regulators.

Going forward, India can make an open commitment to supply a certain percentage of production as commercial/COVAX exports. This allows other countries to plan and execute their own vaccination drives. Further, it will be in consonance with good diplomacy, good economics and good epidemiology.

Measures to control the impact of Pandemic in rural India

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Synopsis: To limit the impact of Pandemic in rural India, states must produce reliable data on Covid-19 infection. State governments need to build capacities and involve panchayats in Covid-19 response.

Background of Pandemic in rural India

  • To tackle the second wave, active coordination between all three tiers of Government (The union, the State and Panchayat) is necessary.
  • The second Covid-19 wave has impacted Rural India equally. This necessitates the need to implement the delivery of vaccines and healthcare services on a war footing in rural areas.
  • However, ensuring access to health services for all in rural India is a big challenge due to various reasons.

Challenges in tackling Pandemic in rural India:

  • Disparities in access to health care between urban and rural India is high: For instance, 75 per cent of hospitals are in urban areas.
  • Denial attitude: People in rural India are hesitant to test themselves. Further, they are not willing to admit that they have the disease. This denial attitude is leading to the loss of lives.
  • Lack of Medical Kits for testing: Many in Rural India lack access to medicine, thermometers and oximeters.
  • All the above problems have complicated the availability of reliable data on the number of infected persons as well as the death caused by Covid-19. This resulted in ineffective planning. For instance, hurdles in Oxygen availability and allocation.

Suggestions to tackle Pandemic in rural India

  • First, State officials and district commissioners should actively report both positive numbers and deaths. As it is important to have the right data. For this, mobile testing vans need to be introduced immediately.
  • Second, families with Covid-positive members should be given kits consisting of medicine, thermometers and oximeters. The delivery of the kits can be supplied through the panchayats.
  • Third, a task force, consisting of all ward officers, district and municipal commissioners, should map out the demand for health care equipment. This will help Epidemiologists, experts and doctors to predict better the requirement of oxygen, medical devices, etc.
  • Fourth, learning from the best practices of Mumbai administration.
    • Mobilisation of human resource: Mumbai used the food and drug administration department for planning the demand and ensuring the supply in the city.
    • Foresighted Planning: Every ward in the city of Mumbai also created an emergency stock of oxygen. This reduced the time to send supplies to hospitals running out of oxygen.
    • Building additional capacity rationally: One of the important lessons to be learnt from Mumbai is that hospitals should only increase beds if they can provide oxygen.
      • The state should also increase hospital capacity by creating additional oxygen plants with adequate ICU beds.
  • Fifth, Decentralised decision-making and planning. The Union government should decentralise crucial decisions to the state governments.

These steps can ensure a better reduction rate of Covid-19 Pandemic in rural India.

Treating Israel-Palestine issue with a humanitarian response

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 2 – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests


The Israel-Palestine issue should be looked beyond geopolitical opportunities. The world leaders must come forward and treat the issue with basic dignity and justice.


  • The Israel-Palestine issue is one of the world’s longest-running and most controversial conflicts. 
    • It is a conflict between two self-determination movements — the Jewish Zionist project and the Palestinian nationalist project towards the same territory.
  • The issue was recently triggered by Israel. As they tried to dispossess and oppress the Palestinians. This resulted in deadly riots in Israel and the exchange of rockets between the two sides. 
  • Experts believe that this instance is going to attract 3 kinds of responses – indifferent, imperial and humanitarian. Amongst them, the imperial response is likely to overpower the other two.

Indifferent Response :

  • The majority of the global countries will adopt an indifferent response to the situation. They believe that both Israelis and Palestinians have their share of rights and wrongs.
    • Israelis and Hamas infuse terror in the region. Similarly, places and Monuments are targeted by both sides.
  • This indifferent attitude towards the issue is the result of geopolitical self-interest shown by the US and Arab states towards the Palestinians. 
    • Their approach has only internationalised the issue and not helped in resolving the issue. The global countries have forgotten that injustice to Palestinians and denial of human rights forms the core issue.

Imperial Response to Israel-Palestine issue:

  • Israel will adopt an imperialist response towards the Palestinians. This is because its past actions have the characteristics of imperial modes of governance. This includes measures such as,
    • Eviction of (Palestinian)people from property,
    • Creation of second-class citizens to fight Palestine,
    • Maintenance of oppressively governed enclaves
  • Israel has been pushing out Palestinians from the territory Israel wants to claim. The country managed to evict as it enjoyed considerable support from big powers like the US and U.K.
    • The process began with Nakba(catastrophe) in 1947. Under this, more than half a million Palestinians were evicted. 
    • Since then, it has been doing consistent evictions by following a policy of thousand cuts to dispossess Palestinians of their homes.
  • It is believed that reducing Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem is likely to be the next objective of Israel

Humanitarian Response to Israel-Palestine issue:

  • This response calls for focusing on mutual sufferings observed by both the communities.
  • It involves taking measures guided by shared humanity rather than ambitious political objectives.
  • Peace movements in the past have focused on this approach. This approach uses the culture and a history of shared suffering to build bridges. They emphasise that dispossession and exile is something both communities share.
  • This approach has met with limited success. This is because there is an absence of serious political solutions.

Suggestions to resolve Israel-Palestine issue:

  • The Israel Palestine issue must be looked at as an unfinished task of decolonisation, and a human rights catastrophe. Future negotiations must be based on the pillars of justice and human dignity. 
  • Israel must realise that it cannot be safe unless the Palestinians are safe. Further, Israel must forgo its adamant zeal of occupying three million people. Instead, it should work on a two-state solution.
  • Friendly countries including India must remind Israel about the brutal consequences of adhering to imperial politics. This includes the destruction of the moral legitimacy of one’s own claims, undermining of human rights and justice etc.

State should form a joint committee to negotiate COVID vaccine price

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2-  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

 Synopsis- Vaccine Price, availability and affordability [for 18-44 age group] would require a coordinated effort from state governments.


  • The central government has pulled out from the third phase of the vaccination drive. The center has provided state governments’ the full responsibility for vaccinating [a group that constitutes about 40 per cent of the population].
  • Now state governments have to procure vaccines directly. Further, they also need to compete with private players at the same time for a better price. As there is only a limited number of capacity and vaccine suppliers.

How can the state bring down vaccine prices?

In contrast to a market with multiple buyers, a single buyer can always negotiate a lower price for a product with one or more sellers. Thus, to bring down vaccine price, So, the State governments should form a consortium. There are some factors related to this. Such as,

  • Involvement of Pre-purchase agreements- This would tackle any uncertainties from the point of view of vaccine manufacturers. It will also allow for faster expansion of production capacity.
  • Delay in the formation of the consortium will impact the procurement – Any delays will strengthen the potential private buyers’ position. It will automatically weaken the position of the consortium to negotiate a lower price. This will result in,
    • Further, widening of vaccination gap between the rich and the poor – The price difference between the consortium’s agreed prices and private sellers is likely to encourage inequity and black marketing

Thus, the formation of a consortium provides a mechanism to achieve affordable prices in India. Further, there is also a survey conducted on willingness to pay (WTP) for Covid-19 vaccines. 

Key highlights of a survey on willingness to pay (WTP) for Covid-19 vaccines

  • The survey is conducted for WTP for two possible vaccine choice [one is 100 percent effective and the other is 70 percent effective]
    • The maximum WTP on average stood at Rs 140 for a 100 % effective vaccine, and at about Rs 109 for one with 70 % effectiveness.
    • Only 2 % were willing to pay Rs 600 or more to 100 % effective vaccine and 1.5 % were willing to pay the same amount for the other vaccine.
  • Nearly 66 % of the respondents experienced an income reduction of more than 50 percent as compared to the last year’s income levels. WTP also declined uniformly with the level of economic shock experienced.
  • So, the economic ability of these households to afford vaccination is severely restricted.
  • Apart from that, leaving sections of the eligible population out of vaccine coverage poses further risks of mutations in the virus.

Suggestions to reduce Vaccine price and provide universal vaccination

Shortage of the vaccine, poor administration and vaccine hesitancy is the reason for low rate of vaccination, therefore-

  • State governments must take immediate action to form a consortium and make provisions for further subsidization of the vaccine.
  • Implementing budgetary solutions like public health bonds will help to improve public finances.
  • Further, the government must focus on Universal vaccination. To achieve this, the center can allow State governments to exceed budget deficit targets.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 14 May, 2021

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