Can we please do something right? Something that will make us feel and look less chaotic. No sooner did the third phase of India’s all-adult vaccination programme against Covid-19 roll out, the CoWIN site crashed. Undoubtedly, it’s the world’s largest vaxxing exercise, with the actual jabs starting on May 1. And teething problems could have been expected, given India’s vast numbers. But the water has reached our head.
Public anger is so palpable that one more thing going wrong would break the camel’s back. Today, the government’s law officer informed the court that UP has no beds left to admit any more Covid-19 patients, and in Delhi the number is six beds. Heart-wrenching images from India’s capital city—queues for oxygen, hospital beds, funeral pyres—has got the world rushing in to help. If Joe Biden has eased controls on the export of vaccine raw material, even tiny neighbouring Bhutan has pledged oxygen to gasping Indians. The first batch of Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, will be delivered by May 1.
Meanwhile, what have we done? After signing a paid-up deal with Bangladesh to supply two million doses of Covishield, the Serum Institute has rescinded on the supply. Dhaka is tying up with China and Russia now. Why? The second wave has us so utterly gasping for breath that India has ‘unofficially’ suspended vaccine exports. That doesn’t mean those lining up for their second dose of Covishield will be getting it easy.
Even prominent private hospitals are running short of supply. The Serum Institute, in a ‘philanthropic’ gesture, has lowered the price of Covishield by Rs 100! With most states announcing free vaccines for their 18+ population, that would indeed save crores of public funds. Still, it’s priced more than anywhere else in the world. And that’s in the midst of the worst pandemic the modern world has known. Short of breath, are you?