” India has now become the centre of attraction globally as far as the 2nd wave of COVID-19 is concerned “. The second wave appears to be more virulent than the earlier one.
” America First ” USA , despite its initial nervousness, has now with its realisation that ‘he who hesitates is lost’ and after prudent reconsideration of its stand now come forward to help India through its supply of medicines/vaccines ; ventilators ; PPEs ; and other experimental devices as its priority. The role of America’s business organisations, the India Caucus, and legal experts in this change of policy by the Biden Administration wins plaudits from even the staunch critics.
For the two nations, ( USA and India) which have fought the wars on Smallpox, Polio, and HIV AIDS for nearly 70 years, the present joint effort to fight the COVID – 19 war comes as a great relief. France is ready to pitch in with its supply of 8 Oxygen generators, liquid oxygen tankers, electric syringe pumps, and breathing equipment. Thailand, Singapore, and Bhutan also have joined in our support . More than 40 countries have pledged emergency assistance to India.
Let me now allude briefly to three aspects for the worrying situation that India finds itself in today :
Figure below represents the three factors succinctly :
They are : (1) Supply and demand anomaly ; (2) Wastage ; and (3) False propaganda / fear.
( 1) Supply and demand anomaly : While 36% have been vaccinated in USA and 60% in Israel, India has not reached even 10% yet. India needs about 13 crore doses of vaccine per month to achieve its July, 2021 target. Local production of vaccines is now only 8 crores. Hence, the need for importing vaccines and as a first step Sputnik V has been granted permission. Reddy’s lab in Hyderabad will likely produce this vaccine at 85 crore doses per year. Besides these, Zydus Cadila’s plasmid DNA ( 10 million doses per month) and Bharat Biotech’s Intra nasal COVID-19 vaccine ( BBC 154) have achieved completion of phase 2 trials. The extremely large variations between supply and demand on one side and the Wastage of vaccines on the other hand constitute the deterring factors in effective control of COVID – 19. Out of the 10.03 crores of people vaccinated ( covishield) only 17145 have been impacted ; and out of the 1.57 crores of people who had the second dose only 5014 have been impacted. The statistics for Covaxin during the same period is as below : Out of 93.56 lakhs who received the first dose only 4208, and out of the 13.37 lakhs who had the second dose only 698 have been impacted. Hence, the proposition that vaccination is not completely effective is misleading and even dangerous. No one drug is 100% effective and there are always exceptions to the rule.
( 2) Wastage of vaccines have been blamed for the ineffectiveness of COVID – 19 control. At the national level it is 6.5% only. This too was a predominant factor in the first month only ( in January 2021 India started vaccination ) when the frequency of visits by people was low due to apprehensions and other such factors. Wastage was high in Telengana (17.6%) and Andra (11.6%). Subsequently however wastages have not been significant. More people participation and better awareness of the administrators of the vaccines enabled the effective use of the vials.
( 3) Propaganda in Social media that a self imposed quarantine for 15 days will be highly effective in controlling the spread of COVID – 19 is true and should never be opposed or criticised. Better than the widespread rumours of discouraging vaccination by false propaganda. India is neither America ( less populated and more technologically superior and administratively advanced), nor China which has an autocratic trend of control – both helping to contain the circulation of widespread rumours. It is not easy to forget the fear created amongst the public following the death of Tamil comedian actor, Vivek, a day after he was vaccinated. Prior to April 17 (the day of his death) about 2 lakh people were vaccinated each day in TamilNadu. In the three days after April 17 (the total for three days) it came down to 1.6 lakhs, a dramatic reduction. On the day of his death only 25500 were vaccinated. Assurances made by the State Government, Medical Experts, and analysts through all media fell on deaf ears, a revelation of the amount of fear and ignorance among people.
Vaccination is the only solution :
In many countries COVID – 19 has been effectively contained after ‘vaccination’. It makes “Vaccination” the only solution. The fact that only 0.02 – 0.04% overall remain affected even after complete vaccination is highly comforting. The 99.96% who have been protected cannot be neglected or sidelined. Misleading propaganda should be treated as a ‘national crime and evil’.
A new vaccine is emerging :
COVID – 19 vaccine is the exuberant call of the People today. Pfizer, Moderna , Johnson and Johnson, Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V, Plasmid DNA, Intranasal .. .. and others are already existing.
Quite significantly, the vaccine candidate that is being pursued by world renowned researchers from the most prestigious institute in India, the “Indian Institute of Science”, Bangalore, India, is glaringly missing in news coverage. Yes, it has now only been tested in animals ( mice and Guinea pigs) but with an astounding result of 200 times ( yes, 200 times) generation of antibodies compared to those seen in human convalescent sera taken from people who have recovered from COVID – 19. Further, it is expected to be effective against new variants too. It can be stored at temp 2 – 8°C without requiring cold chain.
As at present they have been able to achieve this level of success with just Rs 3 crore in funding. Yes, they have now to go through Phase 1, Phase 2 human trials. But the preliminary success in phenomenal measures achieved already underscores the promise that this vaccine can do in India ; particularly with the second and the likely third waves of the pandemic threatening a progressively long term requirement for vaccines. The vaccine emerging out of the portals of a premier academic and research institution like the ” IISc” will not be driven by any commercial benefits. When it finally enters the usage status it will be the lowest priced compared to others for sure.
When fundings to the tune of several thousand fold are doled out to some companies, a funding of a just 100 fold will enable the researchers to accelerate the process with swift technological help from other institutions of the world for effective delivery.
While commending the team of researchers , if the Government accords top priority to this effort it may help solve the pandemic problem affordably in addition to holding the Indian talent flying high. That IISc has a formidable history of forging partnerships with highly reputed institutions and laboratories in the world is known .
At this moment the saviour triad for COVID – 19 will comprise the following : (a) Vaccination, (b) Face mask, and (c) Social distancing. There can be no relaxation of these strictly.
” Dieu avec nous”
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 – 15.29 p.m. ( IST)
Tidbit : ” If you are going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill.