India To Vaccinate Everyone By December, Claims Union Minister; But Is It Possible?

New Delhi: The Union government on Friday made a tall claim of vaccinating everyone in the country against the coronavirus disease by the end of this year.

“The Health ministry last week made it clear that within December the nation will produce 216 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines which means that at least 108 crore people will be able to get their jabs. So, Rahul Gandhi should understand that India will vaccinate all by December 2021,” Union minister Prakash Javadekar said during a press conference.

Earlier today, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the Union government for the current pace of vaccination in the country, saying that it will lead to multiple waves of COVID-19 and that it won’t be before May 2024 that India will be able to vaccinate everyone.

“India has administered 20 crore vaccines so far and ranks second in terms of jabs administered. If Rahul Gandhi is indeed worried about vaccination rates, he should concentrate on how Congress-governed states are conducting their respective vaccination drives. Those states have not been able to vaccinate people aged between 18-45 years even though quotas were assigned to them,” Javadekar added.

With only 20 crore doses being administered till date — the percentage of people having got both doses is very low — the minister’s claim doesn’t seem very realistic at this point of time.

There are still seven months to go before 2021 ends, but even if vaccine production within the country and procurement from abroad is ramped up significantly over the next 2-3 months, getting about 110 crore people – out of a population of over 135 crore – administered both doses will need a herculean task.

Too many things have to work in clockwork precision to meet that target, and the Centre is not the only player in the process.

Factors like coordination between states and the Centre, efficiency at the state level, private hospitals acquiring vaccines at a much higher price, obstacles created by lockdown restrictions in several states will come into play.

The numbers might show that India has administered the second largest number of COVID vaccine doses till now, but considering the population, federal structure and supply of vaccines so far, rollout of vaccination has been anything but perfect.

The situation is bound to improve, yet to think that almost the entire population above age of 12 or so will be vaccinated by end of December seems like Delhi door ast.

Only time will tell if the government’s May 28 claim actually materialises, or whether it was just another political statement to counter the Opposition leader’s stinging criticism.

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