Synopsis: Lack of firefight and planning are the main reasons responsible for the current Covid vaccine shortage crisis. The center needs to put in some extra efforts to address the challenges.
What are the reasons for the current Covid crisis?
- First, the delayed decision to make the vaccine available in the open market. Though now the government has allowed recently, the withdrawal of the price cap on vaccines can lead to a disparity among states to ensure universal vaccination for its citizens.
- The Indian-made Covaxin, whose distribution earlier was free, will now cost Rs 400 to the states and Rs 1,200 to private hospitals.
- The financial position of many states is so weak that they can hardly buy two doses for every person at the rate of Rs 400 per vaccine.
- Further, removal of price cap may lead to Exorbitant profiteering at the cost of people’s lives.
- Second, inadequate availability of vaccines across the country due to lack of planning. This has delayed our fight against Covid pandemic. For example, Maharashtra has announced a stop to vaccinations for three days.
- Further, there were no steps taken to increase their availability. While other countries such as the US and EU advanced funding to companies researching the vaccine, India did nothing.
- The US and the EU also booked 40 crore doses and 80 crore doses respectively in advance. While India placed its first order of vaccine in January 2021 and that too only for 1.60 crore doses. (less than 1 percent of its population).
- Third, lack of vision from our authorities to ensure ample availability of oxygen by anticipating the possibility of the second wave.
- Fourth, Lack of access to live-saving drugs due to profiteering by companies and middlemen.
Further steps to take?
- One, to provide universal vaccination, the Centre should bear the cost of vaccination. Also, a one-time tax can also be levied to mobilize funds.
- Two, the state must adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards the black marketing of medicine. Further, Remdesivir should be procured and disbursed directly based on the assessment of the Disaster Management Group.
- Three, micro-planning at the local level should be carried out and a website for every district to dispense complete information from beds to oxygen, medicines, and ventilators should be enabled.
Source: Indian Express