Clarity on vaccination
It will be a moot point whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi has retrieved “lost ground” after what is seen as a dent to his image in the manner in which the second Covid wave was handled. In his address to the nation on Monday, the PM has made some course-corrections in the ongoing vaccination drive to contain the Covid19 pandemic. What’s significant is that clarity has emerged on the mode of procurement and distribution of vaccines in the country. The Centre will now be taking full responsibility for both. A lack of such assertive action has affected the course of the vaccination, giving room to states to haggle over procurement and other related constraints.
Irrespective of the cost involved, the PM has promised free vaccination to all. This is likely to be achieved by the end of this year if top government functionaries are to be believed. On one side, the production within the country has been scaled up and diversified. On the other, procurement from abroad is currently underway. The laxity in the past five months and export of vaccine doses to nations abroad hurt the domestic requirements. However, there are several if’s and but’s in this matter. Nearly 24 crore of vaccine doses have been administered across states so far, meaning some one-seventh of the population has got at least one jab.
The positive thing about the present Covid19 scenario is that the exasperation of the past two months, during the second wave of the pandemic, has more or less subsided and the overall scenario has improved. The daily infection rate is down to around 85,000, a steady fall since the past two months, but the daily death toll is still over 2000. This should come down in a week’s time if the present trend continues. Major cities like Delhi and Mumbai have opened up to significant levels. Delhi Metro has resumed operations after its shutdown during the start of the second wave while Mumbai Metro will take more time to re-roll. Across states, the infection figures are coming down and ICU bed availability is at comfortable levels now. Oxygen shortage has been overcome and drugs for new scourges like black fungus or the remdesivir injections for Covid19 are also available.What the government lacked, though, was an aggressive response to the pandemic after the first few months of caution, care and hard-edged controls. Now that things have been brought under control, this is time to continue with the Covid protocols and progressively lift the lockdown.