Dr T Sundar, former director of the National Health Mission and currently working with the People’s Health Movement, India, said the situation with the COVID-19 vaccine has taken an “abrupt, ugly” turn for the worse, with the announcement by the BJP in the Bihar poll rally that these vaccines would be given for free if they came to power.
Following the declaration in Bihar, a few others states, including Tamil Nadu and Punjab, have said the vaccine will be given free of cost to people.
Calling the announcement “completely out-of-the-blue” and “uncalled for”, Dr Sundar said while speaking to The Federal for a podcast, “For a short-term gain, a well-developing policy on vaccine allocation is going to be abruptly put under a whole range of political pressures that it will be unable to bear.”
Pointing out flaws in this declaration, Dr Sundar highlighted the fact that the vaccine is not ready yet, and that people do not have a date on when it will be.
He further mentioned that the first round of vaccines that would be released will have to be allotted to states on a priority basis (taking into consideration the COVID situation in each state).
However, following the BJP’s announcement, vaccines will now have to be delivered to all states in an “equitable basis” to ensure unbiased distribution, which may not be possible in terms of India’s production capacity and current budget for vaccination.
He also sought a way for the Election Commission of India to keep “vaccine politics” out of the Assembly polls inorder to not jeopardise the efficient planning that would be required later after the vaccine is ready.
Listen to the podcast below to know more about Dr Sundar’s explanation on why this poll rally announcement affects India’s situation with the COVID vaccine.