This article talks about the need to balance India’s resources with its needs for the COVID-19 vaccine.
We all have been waiting for this auspicious moment for months and it is finally here: The arrival of the Covid vaccine.
The drive for people with comorbidities above 45 years of age and for people older than 60 has already occurred. The government has now opened up the vaccine to all people above 45. But does the vaccine still hold the same magnitude of importance? We are going to address this question further in this article, assessing one aspect at a time.
Need for Vaccine
Let’s start with the most important one being the need for vaccines which has arguably been reduced to a negligible level. If we look at the pattern of COVID-infected people and the number of deaths in India, it starts with around 20 people in March 2020 and keeps on increasing in the next few months to an immense number of around 85,000 in September 2020, which has been the highest so far. Subsequently, it kept on declining and dropped to 10,000 in February 2021.
This pattern clearly shows that the pandemic is technically over and that things are getting back to normal on their own. It can be witnessed on the streets as well by observing the lack of masks and fear in people. Since those who have been already infected are not required to take vaccines up till about three months from infection, a lot of Indians have been naturally immunised, and it may be harmful to vaccinate them artificially.
However, since March 2021, the numbers have started increasing drastically. As of 2 April 2021, India reportedly has 81,466 new cases (Times Now Digital), which is quite a drastic increase. This increase may have been caused by the aforementioned lack of masks and fear due to decreasing numbers. However, the situation we find ourselves in now necessitates vaccination for as many people as possible.
Another aspect to be focused upon is the Union Budget of 2021 in which INR 35,000 crore has been allocated for the vaccination drive. The idea of vaccinating the entire population of a country sounds like a herculean and slow task. With herd immunity also in the picture, vaccination would require more time, energy, and resources than may be needed for the drive. This would definitely impact the current recession and extend it even further. However, with the rapidly increasing numbers, especially in Maharashtra, further recession may be inevitable as a full lockdown by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is under consideration.
What is needed is to tackle the situation smartly and it can be achieved by addressing the core of the problem, which is to break the chain of transmission. Hence, instead of spending an unnecessary amount of money on the vaccination of the whole population of India, the drive should be focused on vulnerable people and those who are prone to the virus.
The vaccine can also prove to be risky for certain groups of people like pregnant women, lactating mothers, people with weak immunity, etc. It can also cause allergies in people who have taken another vaccine previously. Side effects have been observed in a lot of people who have taken the vaccine. While most of them have been minor such as sore arms, swelling, mild fever, fatigue, and pain, some have experienced more. The need of the hour is for vulnerable groups to take professional medical opinion regarding vaccination. If going ahead with vaccination, they should be under observation for a set duration after vaccination. If not, then it is all the more imperative for them to take all medically approved precautionary measures they can.
Everything has a time and so was the case for this vaccine. There is no doubt that scientists all over the world have been working endlessly to create this for the sake of the survival of humankind.
Let’s all ensure the maximum efficiency when it comes to vaccination to balance our resources with our needs. But most importantly, wear masks, wash hands often, and practice social distancing!
Read more about COVID-19’s impact on the migrant population at “Corona Outbreak: How the life of millions of migrant workers has changed after lockdown”.
Article by Samriddhi Singh, Team ulaunch.