The wastage of 6.5 per cent of the Covid vaccine doses in the country amounts to a colossal loss of the precious commodity that holds the key to containing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus. The initial rollout of the shots in mid-January among healthcare and frontline workers was marked by apprehension about the shots, with only around 60 per cent opting for them. While studies in March showed the efficacy and safety of the home-grown Covaxin, the misgivings have not been totally allayed. Making some people reluctant to take the jab is the suspension of the AstraZeneca-Oxford-developed vax (going as Covishield in India) by some western countries over certain side effects.
In this scenario, the optimal use of inoculation can be ensured by revisiting the vaccination strategy. The pace of beneficiaries in the second phase of the immunisation drive which opened to all above 60 and those above 45 with underlying diseases is encouraging. The wastage is likely to be plugged if more categories of people are included in this phase. The advice of some experts to allow all above 45 at this stage holds water. So does that of opening more vaccination centres and supporting more pharma companies that can produce the vaccine.
The boosting of the vaccination rate assumes significance in the light of the resurgence of an alarming spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in some states, including Punjab that is now witnessing the second highest caseload, after Maharashtra. Equally of concern is the fact that Punjab tops in the fatality rate. As these sobering figures have been touching new heights recently— and with little sign of the spike waning — it is urgent to redouble the efforts to control the ravaging coronavirus. Along with governmental efforts, socially responsible Covid-appropriate behaviour is the need of the hour. It is a pity that laxity has set in following the crucial mask-hand hygiene-distancing or test-trace-treat routines. Avoiding unnecessary outings, crowded places or congregations will go a long way in not only ensuring our good health but also, ultimately — and vitally — keeping the wheels of the economy moving.