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Modi vaccine disaster leaves India vulnerable to third wave of COVID-19

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As a second deadly wave raged across India in April and May, Narendra Modi’s government made an unprecedented decision: it transferred responsibility for vaccine procurement to various regional governments across the country.

For decades, India has largely to success The universal immunization program relied on the central government to procure vaccines and distribute them to the various regional authorities. When the pandemic hit, the country was expected to build on this model.

But on April 21, as India recorded nearly 315,000 cases of coronavirus, the Modi government ad he would only buy half of the vaccines the country needs. Local governments and private hospitals are expected to stock up on the rest themselves, within 10 days.

The move left 36 regional governments in shock without warning as they needed to locate and contact vaccine manufacturers around the world, negotiate prices and secure supplies, even as hospitals across the country were overwhelmed with people in difficulty, while the cremation sites were overflowing with the dead. In doing so, Modi knowingly or otherwise imitated the old U, S. President Donald Trump, who in March 2020 passed the responsibility to buy ventilators and rescue masks from governors, insisting that his government was not an expedition clerk.

With the announcement of the Modi governments, local governments global calls for tenders launched, and even the municipalities have tried their luck. Mumbai authorities have written to its six international sister cities, advocate for vaccines. Nothing worked. Companies like Moderna and Pfizer offered a reality check, insisting they would only deal with the federal government.

Even the Supreme Court of India, which normally hesitates to cross paths with the Modi government, has ruled and called the policy arbitrary and irrational.

Stung by critics, Modi has been on television for the past week and has announced that he is reverse politics, adding that his government is now taking over responsibility for the country’s vaccine supply.

But a high price has already been paid. Six precious weeks were lost in the race between vaccination and infection. Right now, the country is already opening up again, easing restrictions on everything from weddings to dining out. But with only 3.7% of its population vaccinated, the country faces the grim prospect of being caught in a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Much of the blame for this should lie with Modi and his government.

Since the start of the pandemic, Modi had been the face of the country’s vaccination campaign. Government issued vaccination certificates literally feature a smiling photo of Modi, perhaps the only world leader do this.

During the country’s Independence Day celebrations in August last year, Modi first announced the news in the country that there was not one, not two, up to three coronavirus vaccines at different stages of testing, assuring citizens that the country was fully prepared to vaccinate the country as quickly as possible with developed vaccines locally. A month later, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Modi said he wanted to ensure the global community that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all mankind fight this crisis.

In January of this year, he reminded the world again that India was ready to save mankind.

But these public statements did not at least correspond to a part of the internal thinking of the Modi governments at that time. Documents consulted through Foreign police reveal that last October, a senior health official in the Modi government told an Indian parliamentary panel assessing governments’ handling of COVID-19 that he had devised a smart vaccination strategy in which the government believed that it was not necessary to vaccinate the whole country.

Once the core group is vaccinated, there is less chance of the disease spreading and it would not be necessary to vaccinate the entire population of the country, the secretary of the Ministry of Health Research told the panel. But the parliamentary panel report, submitted in November, said this could only be an immediate strategy and insisted that the entire population be vaccinated. Later, some committee members told reporters that he had warned the Modi government that vaccine production was going to be insufficient to meet the country’s demand, based on the government’s own estimates.

The reluctance to follow the advice of the panels was evident.

Even though Modi was promising the world vaccines, India itself had not ordered any doses. His government placed his first orders for 11 million doses only on January 11.

Instead, more than 66 million doses of the vaccine were exported out of India, which the Modi government said was a form of vaccine diplomacy, while Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar described it’s making sure that no one is left behind. New Delhi even organized a charter flight for 64 foreign envoys to visit the country’s vaccine manufacturing companies. In press leaks, government officials boasted how 92 countries approached India for vaccines.

But when domestic criticism mounted, the Modis Bharatiya Janata party distanced itself from exports and admitted that 84% of vaccines had been shipped. not out of largesse but due to binding contractual commitments of the manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India. Under pressure, he ordered a restriction on vaccine exports by the Serum Institute, even to countries that had made pre-orders. This caused a foreign policy disaster, with neighbors like Nepal and Bangladesh, which had administered the first dose to millions of people, dealing with unreliable middlemen, scrambling to get enough vaccines to give citizens their late second doses, and even watching to Beijing for help.

In addition to not placing orders, the Modi government rejected a request by Pfizer in February for an emergency use authorization, insisting that Pfizer conduct a trial in India.

The roles have now turned: The Modi government has now lifted the condition, but Pfizer and Moderna have said they will not take control until after July.

Despite the carnage caused by the second wave, the Modi government has yet to order enough vaccines for the country. So far rough estimates show The country has placed orders for just 1.4 billion doses for its population of 1.3 billion, not even enough to cover adult immunizations, since most vaccines require two doses. Among these, there is a question mark over the 300 million doses that the Indian firm Biological E is expected to provide, along with the company not started yet its phase 3 trials.

But, refusing to accept its failure, the Modi government presented a road map ahead of the nation last month, showing an inbound supply of more than 2.16 billion doses from eight different vaccine makers by December. However, five of them are still in various stages of testing, with no clarity on their approvals.

Criticized for such an announcement, the Modi government doubled and announced that India will vaccinate everything by December 2021.

This bombastic approach is unlikely to help.

One month after the announcement, the government last week admitted that at least 350 million of those shots would not come until December. Already, a lack of planning meant that when the country peaked at more than 414,000 new infections in early May, its daily vaccinations had been fall at 1.7 million doses per day, up from 3.5 million doses a month earlier. But if India were to vaccinate its 915 million adults by December, he is expected to start vaccinating nearly 10 million Indians every day, more than three times his current average of around 3 million jabs per day. COVID-19 task force leader has previously indicated shortages will continue to plague India until august, at least.

And the lack of clichés is not the only problem. Governments insist on asking citizens to make immunization appointments on what the health minister called a World class online platform a triggered a digital divide in immunization coverage, even forcing the Indian Supreme Court to push the government wake up and smell the coffee.

Obtaining a vaccination window is assimilated to Win the lottery. People are often forced to rely on hacks such as mobile apps and websites that alert users whenever vaccination sites have empty slots. Much of this is beyond the reach of those who are not tech savvy. It’s worse in small towns, like Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh, where locals told me they had tried for 20 days to get a slot.

Another issue is the government’s decision to allow 25 percent of the country’s vaccine stock to be monopolized by private hospitals, and to allow them to sell the doses at rates that made the country’s vaccines. some of the most expensive in the world. Nine large hospital groups, operating in major Indian cities, have bought half of these doses, creating a deeper rural-urban divide in India’s vaccination campaign.

Now as the Indians return to crowded streets, bustling markets, cinemas and restaurants, the Modi government’s clumsy response is expected to spark another wave in a still deadly vulnerable country.



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