करंट टॉपिक्स

COVID-19 Pandemic – Need to Clear the Indian Sky of Publicity Vultures

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By Sarvesh Kaushal

Epidemics are not for political theatrics or for nesting the publicity vultures feeding on the global reputation of their own nation, their own motherland. In the face of a highly unwarranted, cynical and demotivating criticism forming the basis of an utterly false narrative from certain quarters pursuing their private agendas at the cost of India’s global image, every citizen of India having pride in the Indian nation, its democratic institutions and traditions, it’s world-wide glory, should feel it a solemn duty to shower highest appreciation upon brilliant Indian scientists, committed medical fraternity, untiring frontline workers, civil servants and the policy planners like National Task Force on Vaccine Development, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), involved in the world’s largest vaccination drive that started on 16th January 2021. Every citizen of India should bow in reverence to those Covid19 Warriors who have laid down their lives, and respectful homage to the victims of the pandemic.

It is indeed very irresponsible, rather shameful, for certain ‘off- tanget mindsets’ in India to have caused ‘vaccination hesitancy’ amongst the people through irresponsible political statements doubting the efficacy and imaginary risk factors of vaccination. A set of highly motivated and ideologically biased educated people, ever ready to maliciously defame and demean their own country to the delight of our detractors on foreign lands, also played their usual publicity games in throwing spanners to obstruct the smooth national vaccination rive and demotivate every nationalist element involved in its success. It is time to call such vicious self-seekers out, and shame them by throwing true fact upon their faces.

As prioritised globally on the recommendations of WHO, vaccination drive in India began with vaccination of Health Care Workers on 16th January 2021, and for Front Line Workers from 2nd February 2021, which was further expanded from 1st March 2021 to persons above 60 years of age and persons above 45 years with associated specified comorbidities. Based on scientific advice, the drive was further expanded to all people above 45 years of age from 1st April 2021, and finally, to all persons above the age of 18 years from 1st May 2021. India, having one of the largest population in the world, has sustainably ramped up the vaccination drive to help reduce mortality.

As high as 22.1 crore vaccine doses have been administered in a short span of 138 days till 2nd June 2021. India is amongst the top two countries in terms of vaccine doses administered and the pace of administering these doses.

Responding to the calls from various stakeholders, including many State Govts batting for equitable distribution of vaccines among the States, the recent ‘Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy’ came into effect from 1st May 2021, where vaccine manufacturer would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to Govt. of India channel and rest 50% in ‘Other than Govt of India channel’ which includes supplies to States/UTs and private hospitals and hospitals of industrial establishments to cover the 18 year plus age group. The Central Government has, by conducting informal consultations with the vaccine manufacturers, ensured that the prices of vaccine is uniform for all the States so as to avoid any disparity resulting from one State ending up buying vaccine at a higher price than the other.

In a transparent move, though the States are procuring the vaccines from the manufacturers, the Central Government has determined the pro-rata population of each State in the age group of 18-44 and each State will procure only that quantity so that there is no disparity in availability of vaccines between the States inter-se either based upon difference in their bargaining power or otherwise. Each State is informed by the Central Government in writing about the number of vaccines it would receive every month. It is well known that Central Government is in active discussions with Pfizer, Moderna, and other vaccine developers or manufacturers outside India to facilitate their imports. If these efforts are successful, it will make more quantity of vaccines available for the country.

Till 1st June 2021, a total of 21.85 crore doses have been administered to the beneficiaries of which 1.67 Crore doses were administered to Health Care Workers (98.84 Lakhs 1st dose and 67.88 Lakhs 2nd dose), 2.43 Crore doses to Front Line Workers (1.56 Crore 1st dose and 85.28 Lakhs 2nd dose to FLWs) and 15.61 Crore doses (12.53 Crore 1st dose and 2.95 Crore dose) to beneficiaries above 45 years of age. Around 2.14 Crore doses have been administered to people between 18-44 years of age, which started from 1st May 2021. While the most developed country of the world took 131 days with all the financial and logistical might at its command to reach 22 Crores vaccination mark, India took just a week more, that is 138 days, which is a remarkable testimony to the success of vaccination drive by global standards.

Giant steps are being taken in India to step up the pace of vaccination still further. 100% advance of Rs.1732.50 crores was released to Serum Institute of India (SII) for 11 crore doses of Covishield vaccine for the months of May, June and July. Additionally, 100% advance of Rs. 787.50 crores was released to Bharat Biotech India Ltd (BBIL) for 05 crore Covaxin doses for the months of May, June and July.

Additionally, the proposal for supporting at-risk manufacturing of 30 crore doses to the tune of Rs.1500 crores. COVID-19 vaccines by Biological E has also been approved by Govt. of India. Regulatory framework has been relaxed by the National regulator to allow rapid authorization for import of vaccines licensed by drug regulators of USA, UK, EU and Japan. Import of Sputnik V vaccine, which has recently been granted permission for restricted use in emergency situation, has also begun with the first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses.

Imaginary fault-finding has become a serious disposition of many disgruntled elements. In life, those who cannot do anything positive, find something or the other wrong about those who are engaged in positive, constructive work. Social media and lack of accountability in the Indian laws fuel different lobbyists who are out to demoralise our countrymen settled all over the world by painting false picture of India in the world, spreading exaggerated and uncorroborated sensationalism and cynical despondency.

Time has come to shame the ones who are diluting the well-deserved national and international appreciation to everyone in India who is working for the cause of the humanity in the toughest times during Covid19 pandemic, for our nation and its people; and not get distracted by those elements who are pursuing their hidden personal agendas, be it political or an insatiable appetite for self-publicity by creating fake controversies at the cost of truth, at the cost of the morale of the people of India, and at the cost of the global image of our own nation, our motherland.

Jai Hind. Long live India.

  • About author — Mr. Sarvesh Kaushal, is a former IAS Officer who rose to work as the Chief Secretary to Government of Punjab (India) during 2014-2017. He holds post graduate degrees in History (Gold Medallist), Economics, and Bachelor of Laws. He is pursuing legal practice, academics and social service.

Courtesy – sarveshkaushal.wordpress.com

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