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Covid19 vaccination scorecard – 1

Now that vaccination for Covid 19 has started across countries in the world, I am watching the scorecard to see the progress. The run rate is not great at the moment, but then the innings has just started. The run rate differs amongst countries and also the controversies arising thereof. Regardless, I am expecting things to be a lot better in six months time. Hopefully we will be able to move better than today. And I can visit India !

US leads the world with about 50 million doses administered. Meaning each of the 50 million people got at least one shot. A second shot is usually given in 3-4 weeks time depending on the make of the vaccine. US started earlier in around mid December. They were slow off the blocks but now picking up steam. The change of Presidency, to an extent, is helping the shift in gears. The front line workers are done. Now, anyone over 65 years of age is getting it. It is estimated that it will be opened to the general public sometime in April. It does not mean that I will get my shot in April, but that I will be able to schedule an appointment starting around that time.

Smaller countries like UAE and Israel have vaccinated close to half of their populations, which is good. To be fair, although they have smaller populations of a few million each and areas being small as well, those administering the vaccines are also fewer. They worked out their logistics well. UAE will soon be reaching herd immunity and it can go back to focus on its economy. Israel has the controversy of not vaccinating the Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip areas of its country. If it does not do it for political reasons, virus would not know any identities and Israel cannot achieve herd immunity.

China is close to 40 million vaccines, lower than the US and Europe. It is surprising given that 2 of the vaccine makers are in China and  the Chinese government is known to come down with an iron fist to force the issue. I would be watching the progress and report back on the score.

India at 9 million doses is lower, but then it started late as it took time for the government to approve the vaccinations – Covishield from AstraZeneca and Covaxin from Bharat Biocon. India has still not completed vaccinating the front line workers. Pfizer and Moderna were the first to get approval in the US, but those vaccines have stringent storage requirements and are much more expensive. Indian wait may have been worth it. There have been logistics issues in India as well. But I think they will get sorted themselves as we go along. India has a good track record of mass vaccinations.

The bigger controversy in India is why is the country giving vaccines to other countries when its own vaccination score is low. The answer is vaccine diplomacy, in addition to the logistics reasoning. Both China and India are major vaccine manufacturers in the world. India being the largest. Both are indulging in giving vaccines to other countries to get diplomatic mileage. I support this move. As an example, if India gives vaccines to Brazil, they are likely to support India in the UN when an issue comes up against Pakistan. Or, even for a permanent membership in the UN ! It is always good to have friends in the world.

Does it mean that India needs to give vaccines to other countries at the expense of its own population ? This is where the logistics reasoning comes in. India is producing about 2.5 million doses a day, while it cannot consume all of it at this time. To consume, they need to be transported to wherever the need is, and get vaccine administrators to give the shots. India’s capacity to consume is still low. It is like giving away food left after a buffet lunch when not all the guests turn up to eat all the food. This is a good national strategy.

There are a lot of countries in the world which do not have vaccine making capability. They would be depending on the makers like India. As I mentioned in my earlier blogs, India will be a part of the global solution while China was a part of the  global problem. While vaccination will make things better, loosen some restrictions around travel, the masks will still be needed. We will not be out of the woods totally. Newer strains of the virus are evolving. Vaccines will evolve too. We are likely to require more doses of evolved vaccines in the future.

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Prasad Ganti

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Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
1 year ago

India seems to be doing pretty well on both fronts now. An appreciable number of people have been vaccinated and the vaccine diplomacy as you say is going on pretty smoothly. How are the people taking to the idea of taking a jab in the U.S.? Do others have some reservations, besides the Mormons who do not take in allopathic medicines? The news of Israelis not giving vaccination to the Palestinians is not unexpected but it would have made no difference in their relationship even if the Israelis had shown the magnanmity and Israel knows it better than others

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