India depended on two vaccines: Covishield and Covaxin. Right now, almost every state is saying that it is running out of vaccines. PM Narendra Modi has announced that it’s lifting the age-limit on getting vaccinated from May 1. The Serum Institute of India is setting weird prices for the vaccine while the State Governments are trying to ensure that people get the vaccine for free because there’s a pandemic going on after all. It’s a mess. But more on that later, maybe. Right now, it’s about Pfizer.
According to India Today, Pfizer is in discussions with India in order to make its COVID-19 vaccine available for deployment in the country. A spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company has stated,
“For India, Pfizer has offered a not-for-profit price for its vaccine for the government immunisation programme. We continue to be in discussions with the government and remain committed to make our vaccine available for deployment in India’s immunisation programme. During the current pandemic situation worldwide, Pfizer has maintained that its priority would be to exclusively support governments through the supply of its vaccine only to governments for their immunisation programmes. This would be our approach in India as well.”
Got it? Now, that’s the short story. Time for the long one. During the start of this vaccination programme (And this can be corroborated by The Wire’s article on vaccination in India), the Indian government believed that they’ll make do with Covishield and Covaxin. They slapped some hyper-nationalistic sentiments onto the vaccine. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan publicly doubted the ability of Pfizer to manufacture vaccines in India and even said that we might not need them. And then started to export vaccines all over the world without even thinking about what’s going to happen here in India.
With the vaccine numbers depleting every day, Rahul Gandhi (The Congress leader that the Right Wing loves to hate) suggested the government to allow all vaccines. The same was echoed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. What did the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government do. They lashed out like bloody kids from kindergarten. They took to Twitter to harass Gandhi. The Health Minister responded to Singh’s letter and said all kinds of shit about Congress. For what? A few days later, they decided to fast track approvals for COVID-19 vaccines that have been developed outside India.
When is this offer going to be taken up by the Government? When is the vaccine going to reach? How is it going to be distributed on time? I don’t know. I genuinely don’t. This should’ve been done months ago. Months. People are dying and now we are making preparations how to deal with it while the Prime Minister and the Home Minister is in West Bengal doing rallies, begging for votes. What can we do? Stay safe. Stay at home. Stay sanitised. Mask up. That’s what we can do.