India has been battling hard with the COVID19 pandemic, particularly during the second wave. Critics of the current government have described it as inept, citing its decisions and actions. Subsequently, efforts have been made to help it do as much as possible now the wave has already hit. The former PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh, issued a list of suggestions to the Narendra Modi-led government soon after the reported cases started surpassing 200,000 per day – nearly double the peak of the first wave.
India was fortunate enough to have vaccines available soon after its first wave ended. But the opportunity was not fully utilised due to the government’s optimism after beating the first wave. The administration used words such as “victorious” and “triumphant” during March while describing their success in eradicating the virus. There is no absolute cure for COVID19; the only way to minimize the infections is by social distancing and by vaccinating as much of the population as possible. The former PM highlighted that given India’s population size, there is no use in looking at the absolute numbers of people vaccinated and that one should study the percentages instead. The slow pace is then quite apparent.
The vaccine program should be executed transparently so that the producers and distributors can meet the requirements for raw materials and be ready with the orders by the proposed dates. The states should also be given a proper estimate of the vaccines they will be receiving, and the central government should retain 10% of the total vaccines to be used in emergencies.
Another suggestion given was that the age restrictions on the vaccination should be made more fluid and vaccines should be provided, not based on the age, but depending on who has higher chances of contracting and transmitting the virus. According to the former PM, frontline workers below the age of 45 should also be on the priority list. Executing this will also contribute somewhat to saving the Indian economy’s deteriorating situation.
To increase the production of the vaccine, invoking a compulsory license provision would be helpful. Through these provisions, any company can obtain the license by proving their efficiency in recreating the vaccines. Many countries such as Israel have brought this into effect, and the results have been promising.
Credits – Kshiti Sneh Rai, Francesca Meynell