Race to get vaccine first

With the first tranche of the eagerly-awaited Covid-19 vaccine expected to roll out in a few weeks, the race for inclusion in the priority list for getting the shot is hotting up. The fact is that it may be well past 2022 before there is enough vaccine for the nearly 140 crore people of our country. Two vaccines have got the nod for emergency use and six others are inching closer. The process of inoculation entails huge and complex logistics of production, procurement, transport, storage, distribution, administration and follow-up. Given our infrastructure, the authorities have estimated that in the initial phase, only around 30 crore people categorised as top priority can be vaccinated. And, this exercise may extend till July-August. Healthcare workers, frontline staff (municipal, sanitary workers, police and defence personnel), those above 50 and those with underlying health conditions are the obvious and well-deserved picks for getting the dose first.

While the states and union territories have plunged headlong into making databases of people for the coveted Covid jabs, some thorny arguments have come to the fore as groups lobby to be classified as essential workers or the vulnerable. Such a push by Haryana’s VIPs — MPs, MLAs and bureaucrats — is unfair. The clout they wield can trample over the ordinary but more needy people. They must ask themselves if they were out during the strict lockdown among the Covid warriors who were fighting the pandemic at risk to their lives and health or safely ensconced in their homes.

More such difficult conversations will have to be made. For example, what about those cramped in jails or crowded business establishments; the farmers and labourers; the commuters and the newborns? Containing the spread of transmission of the flu must be crucial in this dialogue. Those at the tail end need to show calm and patience, and wear masks and maintain social distancing as they wait for their turn. The prospect of early herd immunity should keep them going.

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