Just months ago, India avowed an endgame to the pandemic, COVID-19 infections were dropping. The health minister heaped praise on the Prime Minister as well as the export of vaccines to developing nations

Aswini Kumar

Commuters wait to board a train at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus the night before a curfew was due to be introduced in Mumbai

From statistics and observations in the past months, the transmission has increased profusely, the new strain has so many variations in itself, so that is one of the contributory factors. This particularly affects the younger generation who mobilizes more as compared to the older dividend which the previous strain affected more frequently. Also, the new strain as of now is not fully detected on RT-PCR test also the s-mutation of it. This mutation in the genetic realms of this virus does play a role in the rather, escalated rampant contagion in the current second wave scenario.

Yet we cannot attribute all of this to the mutant which is to some extent, in some of the states this mutant has not made its presence, but the second wave has made its presence. So, the mutant is one factor there is also general factor about very weak public health management and a failed anticipation of a second wave, a certain relaxation of the guard in between, a lack of preparation.

Has Vaccine Nationalism gone wrong?

India has pledged to raise monthly production of its own COVID-19 vaccine about tenfold to nearly 100 million doses by September. The two main vaccine manufacturers, The Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech (which makes Covaxin), have been promised $400m and $210m each from the Indian government. In India, less than 10% of the population has so far received initial vaccination. Vaccine supplies have dried up with at least 5 states reporting severe shortages. Given the situation now, this pledged possibility is questionable. 

India’s manufacturing capacity can’t be taken so sanguine even being the world’s largest vaccine supplier, about 2.3 million doses per day. Even though it’s significant, but are giving about 4 million doses per day, at this rate, soon India will be running out of vaccines. India needs to bolster deployment from the current 4 million to 10 million doses per day if it’s strives aborting a third wave. So indeed, it is far behind its production.

Covid-19: How India failed to prevent a deadly second wave - BBC News

The government is also licensing 6 more companies to commence manufacturing production of Covax. But for all of this to happen either Serum institute or these 6 institutes to start production is going to take at least three months and therefore the whole heart of the second wave will cross. That’s the reason why the greatest exporter has now gone into imports. But even in this import deal, a lot has to be manufactured by equipped labs in India and therefore the stepping up of manufacture and its regulation is an issue. New vaccine innovation is also real tricky and the whole transfer of technology unless there is a much greater waiver of the patent requirements as the India and south African government have pushed forward at the WTO platform to ask for a complete waiver of this, India is not going to be able to meet its vaccine targets.

The Indian authorities also ceased large exports of Covishield in March, although some smaller donations to other countries were permitted to go ahead, also some of the supplies promised to the global Covax vaccine-sharing scheme. The Indian government is now rushing to import vaccines such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, although as yet, none of these vaccine makers has applied for an emergency use licence in India as yet. India’s drug regulator recently approved the Russian vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use, which is going to start its mass productions in India by the end of this month. India will yield 850 million doses of the vaccine annually with five pharmaceutical companies manufacturing it, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed the research and development of Sputnik V. These will be for both the Indian market and for export, although production has not yet underway.

The real issue is that production in the next three months is probably going to be ramped up. But what’s going to happen is by then the second wave would kind of have come to an end. and the country would enter another phase of the pandemic where it’s specific pandemic would then take shape perhaps even. The question now is, can the government prevent a third wave which is the realistic situation at this point, at the same time try to mitigate the second wave as much as possible through aggressive vaccinations including those brought from outside India.