Netas jump the queue, is anyone surprised?
Blog by Amitabh Srivastava
For almost one whole year while scientists the world over have been pouring over
books,researching,experimenting in their labs and conducting human trials to find a
vaccine for breaking the chain of death,the common man has watched all this only as an
academic exercise. But as soon it was announced that the first cache of the vaccine was about to arrive in
India in January 2021, the Haryana Government set the ball rolling to demandthat politicians should be in the priority listwhen the vaccine doses start getting administered. Even as the Union Health ministry expert
group made its list of priorities public as to who would be the first to get the double dose of the vaccine,
many many people like me were sceptical how this list could be insulated from the influential and the
powerful in this country. And true to our fears, the Health Minister of Haryana, Anil Vij on Saturday officially declared that while those on the frontline of its fight against coronavirus such as doctors, nurses,
paramedics etc were on the priority list for vaccinations, the Haryana Health Department had written to the Union Health Ministry to suggest that public representatives who come into contact with
masses during their work should also be included in the list. His logic: "Our list includes all public representatives who are at risk of getting exposed to the virus including the police, local bodies personnel like sanitary and municipal workers, law makers and others."
But if you think this is only an Indian phenomenon you are mistaken. This phenomenon, known now as vaccine
nationalism, has been recognised as one of the prominent world wide trends recently.According to a report on Cable News Network (CNN) as recently as December 9, the "histrionics from American and British
leaders point to a growing vaccine nationalism in the wealthier nations".Data that should be shocking proves that the rich countries of the world, which barely account for 14% of the world’s population,
have bought more than half of all the best vaccines, according to the People’s Vaccine
Alliance, an international coalition of health and humanitarian organizations.
In real terms it means that nine out of 10 people living in 67 poor countries of the world
will miss out on the vaccine in 2021, theAlliance report said.
In specific terms, it means that the rich countries have “hoarded enough doses to
vaccinate their entire populations nearly 3 times over.” Canada, according to this
estimate reportedly bought enough doses to immunize its citizens five times over.
“Unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not
receive a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 for years to come,” according to
Anna Marriott, health policy manager for Oxfam, a member of the coalition.
Back to India, people will not forget how on the eve of the elections in Bihar, Union
Finance Minister Sitharaman had promised that every one in Bihar would get the
vaccine.The statement was left hanging in the air and obviously it raised a lot of controversy.
Today,when the Covid-19 vaccine is well within arm's length, varying and confusing
signals are emanating about its availability to the masses.
The government has not yet officially stated at what cost the vaccine would be available
to the masses and by when.While one report said that only 100 persons
could be vaccinated per day, other reports suggested that more people would be
vaccinated as more doses of the vaccine arrive in the country.
If people start raising questions as to whether purchasing vaccines to prevent
mortality was more important than laying the foundation of a new Parliament it would raise
eye-brows among those in power. But that does not mean that questions should not be asked.
With 1.61 million already dead globally due to the pandemic, it becomes a matter of life and death literally.