Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s statement in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that Covid-19 vaccines sent to help foreign countries are not at the cost of domestic supplies ought to reassure the people that the on-going vaccination exercise is not being hampered for want of adequate numbers of vaccines. Logistics and a lack of sufficient health infrastructure explain the slow pace of vaccinations.
However, the minister must address concerns that till now less than one percent of the population has received the first jabs. At this rate, it would take several years to cover the entire population. Stepping up the pace is absolutely necessary. Vardhan informed the House that till Tuesday evening, the 59th day of the drive, nearly 3.5 crore doses had been administered. Given that each person is required to take two such doses, it does seem that the vaccination drive would be a long-drawn affair.
Whether after the vaccination of one-third of the population we can expect herd immunity too is unclear. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that with a greater involvement of the private sector the number of daily doses is doubled or even tripled at the earliest possible.
Meanwhile, the plea in the apex court that various high courts be asked not to entertain pleas from state governments and others for diverting vaccine supplies must be disposed of early. For an orderly management of supply and distribution of vaccines the Centre alone ought to remain the sole authority. Otherwise, it will lead to utter confusion and create further glitches in the vaccination process.