The fight against Covid-19 can be defeated in the long term only using vaccines. There is no other way around the pandemic, and all strategies – whether they be restrictive lockdowns or the triple-T formula will only provide temporary respite from consecutive waves. Sars-Cov-2 has shown an incredible ability to mutate in a considerably short span of time, and this ability should ideally force the government of India to vaccinate people at a war footing like there is no tomorrow. Underperforming states need to be pulled up and punished, while those managing to inoculate a significant number of people every day must be rewarded.
India’s daily vaccination numbers for the past few days have been far from motivating. In fact, from a daily peak of 46.4 lakh first doses on April 7, an average of just about 1.8 lakh people are being vaccinated on a daily basis presently. At this pace, it would take years for India to significantly inoculate its population so as to arrest the spread of the ever-mutating Covid-19 virus. The more time we give to the vaccine to spread, the more it mutates in order to survive. Ideally, we should not be waiting for the mutation which, heavens forbid, can dodge vaccines.
According to reports, a little more than 13 crores (130 million) people have been partially vaccinated since the country’s inoculation programme began on January 16, 2021. With this pace, production and supply capacities, it would take nearly three years to inoculate the entire eligible population with the first dose. Considering the double dose began 28 days after the vaccination drive started, it would take around ten years to fully vaccinate all the people in the world’s second-most populous nation at the current rate.
Although inoculating the entire population is not entirely necessary, however, that by current trends, it will take 10 years to do so suggests how inoculating a significant amount of the population too will take years. India needs to rethink its vaccination policy and have a more non-traditional approach to its inoculation campaign. The country’s first drive-in vaccination centre has opened up in Gujarat’s Kutch. If sufficient vaccines are available across the country – which is not presently the case, drive-in centres could revolutionise our vaccination campaign. Other non-traditional methods too must be actively deliberated upon. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.