That there is a huge vaccine shortage in India is no secret. Dr Gagandeep Kang, an eminent virologist, said that India has fallen behind when it came to placing orders for bulk-buying of COVID-19 vaccines and therefore would now be left with fewer chocies in the international market.
Speaking to NDTV, Kang pointed out that countries around the globe have been prudently buying vaccines at risk for a year. "Aren't we a little late to the table on this one?" she questioned.
Kang was of the opinion that the country should not be playing safe and instead make investments even though the process entailed risk of financial losses in case vaccine could not be fully developed by the manufacturers.
"If you can go to Zydus Cadila, Biological E, all the companies that are making vaccines which will be ready in the latter part of this year, tell them, 'Ramp up your production, make as much as you can. If your trials are successful, we'll take everything that you've got'. I think we'll get more doses that way," the virologist added.
What Went Wrong?
Achal Prabhala, a co-ordinator with AccessIBSA, a project that campaigns for access to life-saving medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa, told BBC that the country did not play any role in the development of vaccines nor did it place advance orders until January.
She compared India's stance to the United States and the European Union, who had pre-ordered more doses than required nearly a year before they were made available for the general public.
"This guaranteed vaccine manufacturers a market, gave them certainty to forecast supply and sales, and ensured that some of these governments got large quantities as quickly as possible, once the vaccines were ready," Prabhala added.
Shortage Across India
The statements comes at a time when several states across the country have been forced to halt the vaccination drive owing to shortage of vaccine supplies.
Multiple reports state that vaccinations for 18-44 age group have been stopped at Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. People aged 45 or above are also finding it difficult to get their second dose in various places. With supplies running out, the vaccination centres have remained shut.
When compared with other countries, India is lagging far behind. A report by The Washington Post in January this year revealed that the US bought enough vaccine for three times its adult population.