From the Viewsroom

A shot at vaccine scale-up

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on February 25, 2021

The pathway to expanding inoculation is fraught with risk

There seems to be much cheer on the decision to extend Covid-19 vaccination to the elderly and young people with ailments like diabetes and hypertension. An onerous task that will see the participation of private medical institutions. But the road ahead is fraught with risk, by way of price, privilege and serious adverse events (SAEs). Prices are a “known devil”, and the Government has stepped in to cap prices on Covid-related diagnostic tests, for instance. With vaccines, too, the Government will need to be watchful, as it walks the fine line between keeping it affordable for the elderly pensioner or a young person without a high-paying job and the viability for vaccine companies and hospitals.

Vaccines will be free at government-run hospitals. But given the deluge of people they already handle, private enterprise will need to step-in to make the exercise affordable. Then comes privilege, an ugly face that shows up often. Just years ago, a parent who had lost his child to illness in the national capital, had commented, you always need to “know someone” to even get a hospital bed. Healthcare inequities are a global affliction. And the pandemic has exposed this, as rich countries stockpile a lion’s share of the available vaccines. So, in India, where the “VIP” culture is rampant, there is reason for concern that vaccines may not reach those who most need it. As vaccine deployment is stepped-up, the Government also needs to define and communicate to people on SAEs — what can be expected; the care that will be given in case there are side-effects; and the compensation that individuals will get in the event of an SAE.

Recently, the World Health Organisation showed the way by introducing a “no-fault” compensation programme for vaccines rolled out through their Covax-facility. Such interventions are required, as some vaccine-makers seek indemnity against possible complaints. And horrific narratives emerge from other countries on outrageous demands from vaccine-makers in the name of indemnity.

Published on February 25, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor