The very grim news that the vaccine rollout for adults in the age group of 18 to 44 will possibly not occur on May 1 as announced, for no State has received the vaccines yet, disrupts the measures being taken to combat the spread of the virus. States have informed the Centre that they will not be able to start the vaccination for those over 18 from May 1. Yet, the registration for the vaccine on CoWIN website has started and on Day 1 itself over 1.2 crore young adults had registered for it, indicating that young India wants the shot as fast as possible. Will they get it?
The situation in Goa is no different. Less than 24 hours before the scheduled rollout of this phase, Goa has not received the vaccine doses. It has instead seen the death of a 19-year-old girl who succumbed to COVID-19 just hours after being admitted to the hospital. That is the situation as Goa awaits the vaccine which will be given from May 1 only if the consignment arrives by April 30 night.
On April 27, Health Services Director Dr Jose D’Sa had said that Serum Institute of India had communicated that they were not in a position to supply the requirement for this age group due to their pending prior commitments of the Central government, and would deliver only after the Centre’s orders are met. He had been quite clear that there could be no assurance whether it would happen on May 1. A few hours later, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant had said he had spoken to the institute and had requested for the supply of the first consignment of five lakh vaccines on priority. The Chief Minister had then publicly assured that the vaccination for the above 18 age group will start from May 1. That now is likely not to happen and the intervention has possibly been futile.
Though there are stocks with the State, these are for the age group above 45 and senior citizens, and cannot be diverted. For age group of 18 to 44, States were asked to place their orders with the producers. The allegation from some opposition-governed States is that the Centre has deliberately created this impasse by making no arrangements for supplies of vaccines and wants to portray that as long as vaccines were supplied through the Centre the process was smooth. Governments cannot be so callous as to play with the lives of the people. This is not the time for politics, this is the time for all to join hands to save lives and reduce suffering. Rather that the Centre and the States pointing fingers at each other, they should be working in tandem to fight the pandemic.
The country has suffered enough during this second wave. Cases are rising, so are deaths. The entire world has turned their eyes on India and how it is coping with the pandemic, with countries promising aid – oxygen, vaccines and medicines. After having ridden the first wave, India became complacent. The leadership in India has failed. There has been no planning, there was no anticipation of the second wave and now as deaths pile up, there has not even been compassion shown. Hospitals are overwhelmed, medical practitioners cannot handle the surge any longer. If foreign governments can rush to the aid of India, why can’t governments within the country work together? It’s time to stop this foolishness and focus on saving lives.