"India to the rescue; as Made in India vaccine gets global approval"

Harsh Sanghavi

May 13, 2021

India's inoculation drive becomes second largest in the world; squashes critics who casted aspersions on government's plan to vaccinate its people
When Narendra Modi launched the world's largest vaccination drive earlier this year on 16 January, there were several sceptics who were quick to point out that the attempts to launch a vaccine programme in India would be fraught with corruption, underhand dealing and overpricing of the vaccines. Some even thought there would be a possibility of a black market and the lack of transparency in the entire process.

I can say this with great pride and happiness that after two months of the vaccination drive, India has successfully inoculated 29.74 million doses, and around 24.31 million people have received the first vaccine dose. This means that 1.26 million doses are roughly administered every day. This data alone signifies that the vaccination programme in the world's largest democracy has been a huge success. As per the latest reports from the Health Ministry, roughly 3.39 crore vaccine jab has been given and more than 1 crore beneficiaries aged over 60 years were covered within a span of just 15 days. India's inoculation drive is now the second largest in the world after US.

The government aims to utilise up to 50 million doses to provide jabs to 250 million priority group, at least by end of July. In the first phase, the Healthcare and Frontline workers were prioritised, where by mid February, that is, within a month since the drive was launched, the government was fully able to vaccinate 3.24 lakh workers. In the second phase, as many as 9,29,359 aged 45 and above with specific co-morbidities and 55,99,143 beneficiaries more than 60 years old were given their first dose, within first ten days since the start of the second phase.

PM Modi's decision to take the vaccine on 1 March to kick-start the next step in the vaccination drive proved to be hugely beneficial in curbing the fake propaganda spread by anti-vaxxers and encouraged people to be vaccinated safely. This further gave a boost to the vaccination drive. This proved critical in eradicating the fear over the safety procedure and hygiene standards.

Many people also raised concerns over the safety of the indigenous covid vaccine, 'Covaxin', developed by Bharat Biotech. Those concerns were finally laid to rest as the Phase 3 trial results demonstrates 81 percent efficacy rate. Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar were administered a jab of Covaxin, which gave a sense of confidence among those wary of it.

The relatively lucid and straight forward procedure to get the vaccine dose has, in my opinion, hugely ensured the success of the drive. A well thought out plan and an effective system in place are the main reasons for the smooth functioning of the vaccination process, which is otherwise a daunting and challenging exercise. In my city, Surat, the Municipal Corporation administered roughly 56,950 doses of vaccine to the healthcare workers and around 36,336 to frontline workers. Citizens aged above 60 years received 60,384 doses and those above 45 years with co-morbidities got 11,481 jabs. In my personal visits to the health centres and the civil hospital, people had a positive mindset towards the vaccine drive and expressed relief upon receiving the jab.

India's global standing in the world has been received a boost by its vaccine diplomacy. As the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, we have sent as many as 586 lakh doses to 71 countries in 55 days. Following a truly internationalism approach, the Indian government provided vaccine free of cost to all its neighbours as a "goodwill" gesture. Around 80.75 lakh doses were exported as gift, while 165.24 lakh doses have been delivered as part of Covax mechanism under the aegis of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Brazil are few countries which got vaccines as the rest of the world scrambles for vaccine supplies. This also strengthened our position against China and paved the way for India becoming a superpower.

Indian vaccine diplomacy is what that led to the Quad vaccine initiative. The vaccine diplomacy will further see an increase and nations in need of vaccines can get more doses as India's Gland Pharma to produce and supply 25 crore of Russia's Sputnik V doses. The Russian vaccine has an efficacy rate of 91.6 per cent which will help contain the spread of virus. The inexpensive rate of vaccine dose which is Rs.250 at private clinics and hospitals and otherwise free at state run health centre has massively contributed to India's triumph in vaccination campaign. The government's generous budget allocation of Rs.35,000 crore to fully vaccinate 50 crore citizens will cover the entire expenditure.

The government's ambitious vaccination drive has confidently defied its sharpest critics and placed India on the world map ahead of many developed nations in successfully overcoming challenges in its fight against Covid-19. As India and the rest of the world looks forward to once again return to the normal, pre-pandemic life, it is heart-warming to see conscientious citizens and NGOs come forward to work with the government to defeat this deadly virus. As a citizen, dedicated to serve the people of my country, I would like to thank each and everyone who stepped up and helped fellow Indians during the lockdown and who continue to play an active role in society. I would like to quote Sardar Patel in my effort to unite Indians against Covid, "Manpower without Unity is not strength unless it is harmonized and united properly, then it becomes a spiritual power."

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