ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Vaccine Shortages and Transparency

The government’s narrative on vaccination should reflect sincerity, truth and transparency.


That the current COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives, at least in the short term, is beyond dispute. That we are perplexed—scientifically and strategically—is less clear; or at least the Indian state is not open about it. Indeed, why and how the government takes decisions with regard to the pandemic are shrouded in mystery and bad logic. The official strategy of vaccinating more and more of our population is in principle correct for those who believe vaccines to be the dominant instrument of fighting the pandemic; supplemented, of course, by physical distancing, wearing masks and other such actions.

At present, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, called Covishield in India and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), is the dominant COVID-19 vaccine in India approved for emergency use based on immunogenicity and safety data (though still not shared publicly) in Indian trials and with assumed efficacy from the United Kingdom trial data. To a far lesser extent at play is Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which had arguably got approval in “clinical trial” mode in early January 2021, with its interim Phase 3 results released in late March 2021 claiming efficacy of around 81%. To date, more than 10 crore doses have been administered with either of these vaccines. However, it is clear that India needs more vaccines and more doses to meet the ­target of universal vaccination, or more modestly, the target of 60% to 70% vaccination coverage to attain some approximation of herd immunity against COVID-19.

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Updated On : 24th Apr, 2021
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