Skip to main content

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury* 

India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat.
The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.
The five states that have administered the highest number of doses are Uttar Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
India's milestone comes months after a huge spike in cases in April and May, when more than 400,000 infections and 4,000 deaths were reported per day and the country's health infrastructure was overwhelmed.
Cases have now sharply fallen, with fewer than 15,000 infections per day, and most activity has returned to normal. Mumbai, where cases peaked in the second surge, recently reported zero deaths in a day for the first time since the pandemic began.
Moving ahead it is important note to gloat in self-glory and look at some pertinent issues in this context, which a laudatory media shall not be raising today on behalf of the nation.
First, around 250 million adult Indians have not got even a single dose of the vaccine, and they are mostly the most marginalized sections of the population, urban or rural, and a lot many tribals.
Second, the 100 crore doses include both the doses. Government itself says that only 30% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, and that leaves a whopping 700 million adult Indians unvaccinated.
Third, the children below 18 years, who number almost 400 million, are completely unvaccinated till date, and that has created a situation of education emergency in the country with no physical classes running in the entire country except some pockets as on October 20, 2021. Worse still, there is no declared strategy or policy for children’s vaccination on a war footing.
Fourth, the media celebration of 1 billion doses calling it as the fastest and among top two nations to have achieved the feat is ill placed. There are only two nations above 1 billion population, and China had already achieved 1 billion doses and now racing close to 2 billion doses, which they will achieve before December at the current rate.
Fifth, very importantly, we would have crossed this milestone much earlier if the process was started by the government in time in 2020 (and not in January 2021), if initially large chunks of vaccines were not exported to create global image and vaccine diplomacy and the focus was on the safety of our country-men first, if Covishield and Covaxin were given financial support or advance bulk orders as done in other vaccine producing nations, and if WHO approved foreign vaccines wanting to come to India in 2020 were allowed to import and sell.
Even the rules and responsibilities of vaccination were not clear and changed several times though under the Disaster Management Act, the Centre assumes full responsibilities during such crises.
Sixth, a large number of Indians, specially of urban areas, had to buy their vaccine doses, from as low as Rs 300 to as high as Rs 4,000 per dose in private hospitals. The polio vaccines were delivered free to the entire population decades back. India as a nation was much poorer then. But people spent for their jabs, and that crosses 20% of the adult population.
Seventh, the vaccination process started with two doses given with a gap of 28 days, which increased to 42 and now 84 days, and without scientific basis, glaringly exposing the ill-preparedness even till May 2021.
The second wave killed officially less than 100,000, but several estimates by the scientific community world-over show it to be more than a million. Now that the production has been ramped up, why cannot we get back to 28 to 35 days gap between jabs, so that more can be vaccinated and faster? The frontline workers with 28 days gap vaccination have not reported to have developed any widespread reaction.
Observers have raised questions as to how an infrastructure clocking 70 lakh doses a day could deliver 2.5 crore on a specific day
Eighth, September 22 reports in ndtv.com and a few other media outlets have reported and shown images of several vaccination certificates of people who actually did not receive the jab, as they were given on September 17, PM’s birthday, to set a record of 2.5 crore vaccines that day, while the daily average till then was around 70 lakh of jabs.
Observers have raised questions as to how an infrastructure clocking 70 lakh doses a day could deliver 2.5 crore on a specific day. In at least one case, of Vidya Sharma in MP (Aagar-Malwa district), the lady dead four months earlier, got her vaccination certificate on September 17! In June, several reports were there of 13-14 years old children receiving certificates too without any jab being delivered!
Ninth, the government of India has opened up vaccine exports once again, in October 2021, while still 70% of adults and 100% of children are yet to be fully vaccinated. There is no way that production can be ramped up to cover the entire population and ensure exports at the same time, as of now. This may be another challenge brewing ahead.
Tenth, and finally, though the new cases are much lesser now, the current ongoing festival season with huge gatherings will need to be prevented and the consequences observed till mid-November after Diwali is celebrated in the first week of November. We need to learn our lessons from the second surge of April-May, 2021, following Kumbh Mela and elections in five states.
Every pro-people success is important and needs to be rejoiced, but not at the cost of bitter facts alongside and the much needed caution not to plunge into another major crisis.
---
*Secretary, Global Media Education Council, and former Pro Vice Chancellor of Kolkata-based Adamas University

Comments

Archana Datta said…
Very valid questions have been raised. In reality, only 27% to 30%, received both the doses, which only matters. So why this brouhaha? Only publicity gimmick, to distract global attention. Besides, when many people like us paid for the jab, the PM's photo is a big irritant.

TRENDING

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

Teesta treaty? Modi sends ball to Mamata's court amidst Hasina's mango diplomacy

By Samina Akhter*  Most Bangladeshi and India media reports say that the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has received 600 kg of mangoes from Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as part of her "mango-hilsa diplomacy." Hasina also delivered mangoes to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi this month, according to the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in India. In all, 1,200 kg of Amrapali mangoes were delivered to the residences of the President and the Prime Minister of India. According to a Bangladesh's deputy high commission official in Kolkata, a few more chief ministers in the eastern region will likely receive similar gifts. Last year, not only President Kovind and Prime Minister Modi, but also the chief ministers of West Bengal, Tripura, and Assam also received mangoes from Prime Minister Hasina. Hasina delivered mangoes from Rajshahi, including kinds like Golapkhas and Amrapali, as it is the peak season for the delectable fruit in

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Cops 'refuse to register' complaint after BSF shot landless worker off Bangla border

By Our Representative  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), in a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), referring to the incident of “firing and execution” of a poor Muslim youth, has alleged that the 26 year old was was shot at “without giving any warning” one and half kilometers inside the Indian territory from Bangladesh border by an on- duty Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. Stating that the person, Ruhul Mondal, belonged to an Other Backward Class (OBC), and hailed from Ramnarayan Para village under Sagarpara police station in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Roy in his representation said, the BSF person who shot at him is “attached with Singpara Border Outpost, 141 Battalion”, underlining, the BSF has now floated “self defense theory” to cover up its operation. According to the BSF officials, the incident took place in the jute fields in

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Protesters demand release of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, seek review of SC order

By Our Representative  Protests broke out across India on June 27 following Teesta Setalvad’s arrest demanding her immediate release. Sabrang India , a site run by Setalvad, claimed she was “arrested on trumped-up charges after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition moved by Zakia Jafri demanding an investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat violence.” The protesters also demanded release of former DGP Gujarat police RB Sreekumar, also arrested simultaneously. The protests were preceded by over 2,200 people from across the globe signing a statement demanding their immediate release. Leading signatories such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) convenor Medha Patkar, former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas. “The state has used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicit

Electoral bonds scheme 'compromises' voluntary nature PM relief fund donations

By Rosamma Thomas*  The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is meant to collect voluntary donations from the general public, either individuals or organizations, to enable assistance to people in times of natural disaster, or for expensive medical treatment. That fundamental voluntary character of the fund, however, has changed in recent years.  The gazette notification of January 2018 announcing the Electoral Bond scheme states, in Clause 12 (2): “The amount of bonds not encashed within the validity period of fifteen days shall be deposited by the authorized bank to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”. The Union government has, thus, through notification, directed funds to be deposited into what was meant to be purely voluntary. Commodore Lokesh Batra, who has been campaigning for transparency in government functioning, holds that once a gazette notification has been issued directing that funds be deposited into the PMNRF, the character of the whole fund has changed,

Bulldozing houses in UP: India isn't Israel, Muslims living here 'aren't Palestinians'

By Naveen Tewari, Sandeep Pandey*  A recent full front page of the advertisement by a Bhartiya Janata Party government declares, 'House is not just a word. It is a place where power to dream comes and aspirations are fulfilled. Home is much about dignity and security than it is about shelter.' It further goes on to quote Narendra Modi, 'It is my dream that every Indian has a pucca house by 2022.' The occasion was dedication of houses built by a private builder Balaji to the poor. Having witnessed over the past few days the now iconic picture of a bulldozer running down the Prayagraj house of parents of female Muslim student and activist Afreen Fatima, who participated in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens protests, one is almost tempted to look for a fine print at the bottom of the page to the effect that the promise of house is subject to the condition that one doesn't participate in any anti-government protest otherwis

Church in India: Rooted in patriarchy, Pope Francis-initiated reforms remain on paper

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is ‘Laity Sunday’ once again on June 26! A time for the Church once again to introspect and to see whether the much flaunted ‘lay collaboration’ actually exists in reality or not! In a highly clerical and patriarchal Church, which has stubbornly refused to accept in toto the changes envisaged by Vatican II and as desired by the then Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, introducing any reforms is certainly very difficult. But Pope Francis, in his typical style, is apparently succeeding in doing so! On March 19, 2022 (Feast of St Joseph) the ninth anniversary of the formal inauguration of his pontificate, he published Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel),his new constitution for the restructuring of the Vatican Curia. It was a reform that was promised at the beginning of his pontificate; several aspects of it have already been implemented over the years. The final document, however, does make some significant changes and provides the vision of a Curia that

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization