India began the first phase of its vaccination programme on 16th January, 2021. Frontline workers, i.e. health workers, police, paramilitary forces, sanitation workers, and disaster management volunteers, were the primary targets of this phase. The second phase entailed the widening of the vaccine bracket to now include persons within the age group 45-60 and those with comorbidities, registrations for which took place on online platforms such as CoWin and the Aarogya Setu app. When the inevitable second wave of Covid-19 hit the country, the country, the government and local establishments were all overwhelmed infrastructurally, materially and emotionally. The dead among us surged to such an extent that crematoriums, graveyards and rivers swelled, and there were news reports of undercounting mortalities everywhere. Subsequently vaccination drives were suspended on account of unavailability of enough supply of vaccines. On the one hand, vaccination was one of the main solutions to battling the pandemic and on the other, the availability of this solution was in question. Vaccine sharks responsible for the timely supply of vaccines were left answerable especially Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawala who failed to deliver a big promise he had made earlier.
This annotated bibliography is a collation of news articles which trace the vaccine debates that took place in India and the major and minor developments that occurred early this year with the inauguration of the vaccine drive, the second-wave, the suspension of vaccine inoculation due to shortage, vaccine hesitancy and technological challenges on vaccine registration platforms. We have collected news pieces from across the country in order to understand the contextual challenges faced in terms of centre-state policy and implementation issues, vaccine pricing due to privatization, privacy of those vaccinated, the digital, gender, caste, regional, urban divide and other accessibility issues. The bibliography features short summaries of news articles collated from 23rd July 2020 to 2nd July 2021, and is structured in a reverse chronological format. The summaries contain quotations from the articles, and these have been italicized.
Compiled by SWAN volunteers: Arundhati Narayan, Madhura. S. B. and Nandana Anand
Illustrations by: Vasvi Oza
- 30th June ‘21: Tripura among the top in vaccine table (Indian Express)
Tripura has one of the highest vaccination figures in the country, with 80% of its 18+ population, and 98% of its 45+ population having received at least one dose of vaccination. The road to this achievement was a hard one; initial vaccine hesitancy, poor connectivity between areas due to rough terrain and the population being spread out, irregular vaccine supplies, and lack of awareness about Covid and vaccinations, were some of the issues that had to be tackled. Measures taken to tackle these included awareness campaigns on television and through pamphlets, appeals from the CM through personalised letters in different languages and dialects, and vaccination camps and drives even in the remotest areas.
- 29th June ‘21: Kerala launches Covid-19 vaccination drive for migrant workers (Deccan Herald)
With the highly likely approach of the third wave, the Kerala state government has initiated an effort to vaccinate its highly vulnerable population of migrant workers. The government has tried to locate them, however, this has been a major challenge, due to their constant changes in location and unorganized nature of work. Attempts are being made to overcome this, by organizing measures like offering food kits at their camps and conducting registrations. Kerala could be the first state to attempt a drive to vaccinate its migrant workers.
- 27th June ‘21: 186 crore vaccine doses needed to cover all over 18, says Centre (The Hindu)
As directed by the Courts, the Centre has cited figures and generated data of 5 different companies of vaccines. The requirement of 186 to 188 crore doses of vaccines for the double-doses to the eligible population of 93-94 crores above the age of 18 years, aiming to complete the vaccination for the entire eligible population by the end of 2021. “51.6 crore doses will be made available for administration by July 31, leaving a requirement of approximately 135 crore vaccine doses for complete vaccination to the eligible population”, the Centre said. It informed the SC that the States were free to fix their own priorities for vaccine coverage and supply schedules.
- 26th June ‘21: Andhra Pradesh, Kerala Defy India’s Big Gender Divide in Covid-19 Vaccination Drive (News18)
The gender divide that is visible in India’s vaccination drive, with more men getting vaccinated, does not seem to apply to Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, while the divide is largest in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. These inferences were drawn from data from the CoWin platform. Vaccination coverage seems to be better in adivasi districts than the national averages.
- 24th June ‘21: Vaccination by force violates fundamental rights: Meghalaya HC (The Indian Express)
The Meghalaya High Court observed that forcing shopkeepers, taxi drivers etc. to get vaccinated as a condition for resuming their business or profession “vitiates the very fundamental purpose of the welfare attached to it”. It further held that forced vaccination violates Fundamental Rights as given under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. It affects the right to means of livelihood if vaccines are made mandatory for employment, the court said,. At the same time, it noted that vaccination is the need of the hour and necessary to curb the pandemic and hence it was the responsibility of the state to sensitise the citizens of the pros and cons of the exercise of vaccination. It added that it was the duty of the state governments to curb the spread of misinformation related to the vaccination drive.
- 22nd June ‘21: ‘Will Create Vaccine Inequity’ : Plea In Supreme Court Challenges Centre’s Policy To Sell 25% Vaccines To Private Hospitals (LiveLaw.in)
Applications have been filed in the SC challenging the new policy adopted by the Central Government to reserve 25% of the domestically manufactured COVID vaccines for private hospitals, as in effect it will cause a reservation for the rich and urban dwellers alone. These applications contend that there is massive under-utilization of vaccines given to private hospitals. Besides, such quotas create vaccine inequality as private hospitals are allowed to independently purchase their supplies. The plea also cites figures to support its claims on how many private hospitals out of the ones existing in India could actually get a hold of the vaccine supply, it says that “this is in gross violation of the principles of social & economic justice and equality of status & of opportunity as embedded in the Constitution of India”.
- 22nd June ‘21: Covaxin 77.8% Effective In Phase 3 Trial Data: Sources (NDTV)
Data from the Phase III trials conducted by Bharat Biotech for Covaxin on 25,800 participants from across India has shown that it is 77.8% effective in protection against Covid-19. The data was studied and recommended for approval by the Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI) Subject Expert Committee (SEC). Phase III approval can help Bharat Biotech get an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO), and the company is expected to meet WHO authorities regarding submission of final documents and data. The EUL will help with exporting the vaccine, and enable easier international travel for Indians vaccinated with the drug, since it is not yet recognised by some foreign governments.
- 22nd June ‘21: As Rajasthan’s tribal districts lag behind, state offers rations, free travel as incentives for shots (The Indian Express)
With the Covid vaccination drive entering its next phase and free shots being provided to all adults, measures are being taken, and incentives being provided, to persuade the adivasi populations, in districts that are lagging behind in vaccine coverage, to get vaccinated. Incentives generally include ration kits and free travel to vaccination centres, and bhupas or adivasi priests, and sarpanches and panchs are being roped in to present the case for vaccination more strongly. Different districts have adopted various measures to overcome the prevalent vaccine hesitancy.
- 19th June ‘21: TN vaccination drive shows great divide between Chennai and other districts (The News Minute)
Concerns about inequitable vaccine distribution across TN are emerging because of the glaring gap in vaccination of adults. Chennai seems to have bagged the bulk of vaccinations and is surging ahead in vaccinating its adult population. Numbers show that most other districts are lagging behind, with the exception of the Nilgiris. The district administration in the Nilgiris is focusing on vaccinating the adivasi populations and the tea plantation workers. Data shows that the rural districts of TN are severely lagging behind in vaccinations. The TN Health Secretary has said that the divide has appeared due to vaccine acceptance and hesitancy rates between the districts that are doing well and the ones that aren’t, adding that, however, vaccine acceptance rates had increased with the second wave. Chennai Corporation Commissioner added that since Chennai was a major hotspot during both waves, extra focus was put on vaccinating its population faster.
- 9th June ‘21: Centre says door-to-door vaccination not possible; favours ‘near-to-door’ system (The Tribune)
The Bombay HC has directed the government to come up with a door-to-door policy for citizens who would not be able to visit vaccination centres like senior citizens, specially-abled, bed-ridden and wheelchair bound people, to which the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has responded that ‘near-to-door vaccination’ would be a more appropriate solution than ‘door-to-door vaccination’. The Centre has now come up with more pointers on why these categories of people cannot be inoculated at home, owing to the risks cited by the expert committee. It instead proposed ‘Near to Door’ Inoculation Centers which would include inoculation jabs at non-health facilities closer to home.
- 8th June ‘21: Weyan village in Bandipora 1st village in country to record 100% vaccination against Covid-19 | India News – Times of India (The Times of India)
Weyan village, of the Bandipora district in Jammu and Kashmir, has become the first village in the country to vaccinate 100% of its 18+ population, which consists of 362 people. The J&K model, which follows the method of administration reaching out to the people rather than having them go to vaccination centres, is the reason attributed to this success in vaccination efforts. The village can be reached only by foot, and has no internet access, and the vaccinators had to trek through difficult terrain to get there. Vaccine hesitancy was also overcome by the residents of the village by deploying influencers like religious leaders, local elders, to counter vaccine hesitancy.
- 7th June ‘21: PM Modi announces new rule, Centre to procure 25% Covid vaccines entrusted to state (Livemint)
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Central Government has decided to procure vaccines for the State Governments as well, changing the earlier vaccination policy. The Centre also announced that it decided to give free vaccines for the age group of 18-44 years as well from June 21. After strong criticism from the Supreme Court on the Centre’s vaccination policy and increased demand from states, PM Modi announced that the centre has agreed to undertake centralised vaccine procurement. Here, 75% of vaccination is to be free and provided by the Centre and the remaining 25% is paid and can be procured by private hospitals. PM Modi also announced that the private hospitals administering Covid-19 vaccine would not be entitled to more than Rs 150 as service charge above the cost of a vaccine dose.
- 5th June ‘21: Under fire, Punjab stops sale of Centre-allocated vaccines | India News (The Times of India)
The Punjab government came “under fire” for diverting Centre allocated vaccinations to private hospitals, which charged individuals an exorbitant price for a dose of vaccine, in attempts to earn profits. Due to pressure from the Central government and Opposition, the State government has withdrawn the sale of vaccination to private hospitals, and has ordered them to return all the vaccine doses available with them.
- 5th June ‘21: Corbevax Covid-19 Vaccine: How Corbevax is different (The Indian Express)
Indian government placed an emergency order on indigenously produced Corbevax vaccination which is being developed by a Hyderabad based company- Biological E. The vaccine is made from the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which enters the body and replicates the disease without actually causing serious harm, allowing the body to develop an immune response to the virus. The Corbevax vaccine, like most other COVID-19 vaccines, will have to be taken in two doses. Since the making of the vaccine incurs low costs, it will also be one of the cheapest available vaccines in the country. The reason behind the government placing bulk orders on Corbevax is the sparse availability of other vaccine supplies.
- 4th June ‘21: No Decision Yet On Indemnity To Foreign Or Indian Covid Vaccine Makers: Centre (NDTV)
Niti Aayog member V. K. Paul issues a statement regarding the issuing of indemnity to foreign, as well as Indian, COVID-19 vaccine makers. Foriegn as well as domestic vaccine makers are expecting to be given indemnity in order to be able to supply vaccines. No decision has been made yet regarding whether indemnity will be provided, since the nation and its peoples’ interests are to be taken into utmost consideration, Dr. Paul says. Decision making process will have to take into account the vaccines required for the entire child cohort, which is a significant number- “we cannot have some people getting and others not getting…”, Dr. Paul says.
- 3rd June ‘21: BJP leaders face flak for ‘preferential’ vaccination (The Hindu)
BJP leaders from Bengaluru, including the deputy chief minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan, have faced scathing criticism from citizens and the Opposition over allegations of preferential vaccination for certain caste groups and party members. Photographs of priests, who are not on the list of priority groups, getting vaccinated at a drive organized by Mr. Narayan in his constituency, have surfaced, leading to allegations of caste based vaccination camps. It was also claimed that Dalits were turned away from this camp. Denying these allegations, the Minister’s office said that the camp was for senior citizens, and that the priests had shown up for this. Two other MLAs are also being accused of diverting vaccines from PHCs to vaccinate BJP workers and their families and vaccine trading with a private hospital. MLAs are spearheading vaccination drives in their respective constituencies due to the absence of elected councillors, and this has led to allegations of “preferential treatment”.
- 3rd June ‘21: Digital divide will exclude marginalised from jabs: Supreme Court | India News (The Times of India)
The Supreme court highlights the large digital divide in the vaccination policy put forth by the Central government implying that individuals must compulsorily register on the CoWin platform or Aarogya Sethu app. The unequal digital accessibility could mean that the marginalized will be excluded from the vaccination process hampering “universal vaccination drive”. The SC has also questioned the Central government on the same, and how they are going to manage the situation, and has proposed a few recommendations, such as making CoWin and Aarogya Sethu available in regional languages, and conducting a disability audit on the two sites.
- 3rd June ‘21: India faces a challenge with its mass vaccination efforts (The Lancet)
India battles between trying to control the surge of the COVID-19 cases in the second wave of the pandemic, and conducting productive and efficient vaccination drives in attempts to vaccinate its entire population. However, mass vaccination drives can be super-spreader events, especially given the new viral variants increasing the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Reports also suggest that COVID-19 safety protocols such as social distancing, wearing of masks, etc. are lax at vaccination centres, increasing the risks further. The efficacy of the vaccinations is still uncertain, with several individuals contracting the COVID-19 virus even after being fully vaccinated. Experts recommend that governments slow down the vaccination process by prioritizing the safety of individuals. They also propose that there must be a cap on the number of individuals at vaccine centres to prevent overcrowding.
- 2nd June ‘21: How Rs 35000 Crores Budget Allocation Spent For Vaccines?Why Can’t It Be Used To Vaccinate 18-44 Years Group? SC Asks Centre (LiveLaw.in)
The Supreme Court questioned the Central Government In light of the liberalized vaccination policy on how these funds have been spent so far and why they cannot be utilized for vaccinating persons aged 18-44 years. The Court further questioned the Centre on its justification of competitive pricing policy to incentivize more private manufacturers, when there are only two manufacturers to negotiate with pre-fixed prices. It was reiterated that “the Union of India should consider utilizing its position as the monopolistic buyer in the market and pass down the benefit to all persons”. The Court directed the Union to undertake a “fresh review” of the vaccination policy in the light of these concerns raised.
- 2nd June ‘21: Supreme Court Slams Centre’s Vaccination Policy For 18-44 Year-Olds (NDTV)
The Central government’s vaccine policy of making them available to those above 45 years for free, and pricing them for the others, has been widely questioned. The Supreme Court calls this decision “prima facie arbitrary and irrational”.The court also highlighted other issues such as, vaccine availability and accessibility and pricing of vaccines. With the pandemic sparing no one, and with several younger individuals being severely affected by the COVID-19 virus, and an urgent need to vaccinate them as well, the Supreme Court has ordered the Central government to review its vaccination policy. The varied pricing on the different vaccines also act as barriers to accessibility. The Supreme Court has also demanded from the Central government a response on how well they are prepared to manage children in the event of a third wave, vaccinating frontline workers such as crematorium workers, and projections on vaccine availability.
- 1st June ‘21: Four PHCs in rural UP, 2 causes of vaccine dip: hesitancy, wastage fear (The Indian Express)
Four PHCs in rural UP- Mansoorganj, Maulaganj, Kritpipra and Ghughuli record a dip in vaccinations. The reasons range from technical difficulties faced with registering on the CoWin platform, to absence of medical staff, to extension of the gap period between the first and second dosage in the case of Covishield, to fear of vaccine wastage. As individuals wait for hours in order to receive the vaccine, they are often sent back to come later since the crowds are too small to open fresh vials of a vaccine – in the case of Covishield, each comes in a set of 10. If you don’t have ten people, the remaining shots will have to be discarded. People often leave the vaccine centres frustrated at having travelled so far to be denied the vaccine. The report by Indian Express also reveals that the PHCs actually administering the vaccinations to individuals are located farther away from the PHCs that individuals sign up for on the CoWin website.
- 1st June ‘21: Experts question Centre’s one-dose Covid vaccination efficacy theory (India Today)
The Central government’s new strategies to handle the vaccine shortage has upset epidemiologists and other health experts who have criticized the improper reasoning behind its decisions. At a time when the United Kingdom is planning to reduce the interval between the first and second dosage of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, India is doing the reverse by increasing the gap to a time period of 12 weeks (84 days). There have also been talks of mixing two different vaccines together in order to deal with the vaccine shortage and to increase efficacy. The Banaras Hindu University’s research goes one step further to make claims that a single dose of the Covishield vaccine is enough for individuals who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection, since it was observed that antibodies in individuals who recovered were found to be developed in the first week itself. Experts comment that there is no proof that a single dose is sufficient enough to protect against mortality and serious effects of the virus. The health experts state that both the doses of the same vaccine have to be taken in order to build up the protection levels to above 60-70 percent.
- 31st May ‘21: COVID Vaccination At Private Companies In Bangalore (Karnataka.com)
The state government has given permission to private companies and industrial workplaces in Bangalore, to run vaccination drives for their employees and their dependents. This permission has been granted through “The Liberalized Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy” issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in April. Vaccinations can be done at the industrial and private workplace or at? Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs). Private CVCs can procure vaccines from private hospitals, or tie up with BBMP approved hospitals. Government CVCs can use free vaccines from the Government of India for vaccinating 45+ persons, and will have to procure them directly from vaccine manufacturers for 18-45 years.
- 31st May ‘21: Covid-19 vaccination drive gains steam in Karnataka (Deccan Herald)
Even though the vaccine drive in Karnataka has picked up pace, with just 24 lakh doses being administered in Bangalore district, the total number of individuals who have been fully vaccinated is still at a low. With the category of frontline workers being extended to 22 new professions, there has been an increase in the number of vaccines administered. While the state mentions it has been receiving its supplies, there is still an acute shortage of vaccines. There have also been cases of individuals filling up slots in other centres and districts making it difficult for the locals to access and avail the vaccine. There is an attempt being made at collaborating with NGOs in order to make the vaccination process more efficient and available to all groups. However, right now the focus is on frontline workers and vulnerable groups.
- 31st May ‘21: No vaccine, no alcohol: SDM mandates jabs for purchase of liquor in UP’s Saifai (India Today)
The Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Etawah district, Uttar Pradesh, directed that notices that read “no liquor without vaccination certificate” were to be put up in liquor stores in Saifai, Etawah. SDM Hem Kumar Singh, while inspecting liquor outlets in Saifai, instructed the owners that liquor shouldn’t be sold to those who haven’t been vaccinated, and can be sold only after vaccination certificates have been verified. The Etawah district excise official has said that an order mandating vaccine certificates for liquor purchase hasn’t been issued. These initiatives in districts are being relied upon in order for UP to reach its target of administering 1 crore vaccines in the month of June.
- 31st May ‘21: Tamil Nadu may suspend its vaccination drive due to shortage of vaccines (Deccan Herald)
Tamil Nadu has announced that it would have to suspend the ongoing vaccination drive due to shortage of vaccines. It said that it has enough vaccines to last only for a few days. The Principal Secretary (Health) said that according to the Centre, the next supply of vaccines for the state would be available only after June 6th, and that the state hadn’t yet received a number of the doses promised for the month of May by the Centre.
- 31st May ‘21: Take action against institutions giving Covid vaccination package with hotels: Centre to states (The Indian Express)
The Health Ministry has strictly reiterated that COVID-19 vaccinations will be administered and availed only under four approved conditions: government vaccine centres; private COVID-19 vaccine centres; COVID-19 vaccination centres at workplaces organised by private hospitals; and especially closer to home vaccine centres in collaboration with housing societies, panchayat bhavans for the elderly and differently-abled persons. This strict specification took place after it was observed that several private hospitals were setting up COVID-19 vaccination packages in collaboration with star hotels- “…vaccination carried out in star hotels is contrary to the guidelines and must be stopped immediately. Necessary legal and administrative action should be initiated against such institutions”.
- 29th May ‘21: Uttar Pradesh: Now, get registered at post offices for Covid vaccination | Varanasi News (The Times of India)
Post offices in the Varanasi region of Uttar Pradesh will start providing the facility of registration and booking appointment for Covid-19 vaccinations. This is to ensure that people in rural pockets with no access to smartphones and internet facilities aren’t excluded from the vaccination drive being carried out. The service is already available at the branch post office at Gorai (comes under the model block developed in PM’s parliamentary constituency), and will soon be available at 300 other branch post offices in Varanasi region. People who wish to register have to go to the post office with their photo IDs and mobile phones.
- 29th May ‘21: Covaxin second dose priority: BBMP chief- The New Indian Express (The New Indian Express)
“Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta on Friday said that priority will be given to those waiting for their second dose of Covaxin at all primary health care centres.” Those who are eligible and are unable to avail the vaccine can contact the BBMP with their details and necessary arrangements will be made to ensure they receive their vaccine. Other discrepancies such as personal information of individuals being leaked while registering to find out test results through the Covid portal have also been taken up. An OTP method to determine test results is being put in place to ensure no information of individuals is compromised.
- 29th May ‘21: Private hospitals to resume Covid vaccination drive (New Indian Express)
“With private hospitals entering the fray, the burden on government hospitals is reduced. The rush at hospitals for vaccination can be avoided, which itself is a source for the disease.” Several private hospitals across Kerala have placed vaccine orders with Serum Institute of India. SII has announced that first priority will be given to State government hospitals and then to private hospitals. A two month waiting period is expected for the vaccines to be delivered to the hospitals. Private hospitals have made it strictly clear that only those who have registered themselves on CoWin or Aarogya Sethu App are eligible for getting the vaccine and no spot registrations are allowed. “The issue is the unavailability of the vaccine. If private hospitals also start the vaccination drive, then more people can be covered in a short period” said Dr. Jothydev Kesavadev. By making vaccines available in private sector, people who can afford it can pay and get the vaccine and needn’t wait, he says.”
- 28th May ‘21: Bengaluru: Vaccination drive for vulnerable population, priority groups gathers steam (The Indian Express)
The vaccination drive for priority groups identified by the government is picking up pace in Bangalore. These groups include differently-abled people, street vendors, auto rickshaw and cab drivers, security and housekeeping staff from government offices, water and electricity suppliers, crematorium staff, among others. Nodal officers have been appointed by the BBMP to ensure vaccine availability for eligible beneficiaries from these categories. Various measures are being adopted and followed to streamline this process for the different groups.
- 27th May ‘21: How Covaxin became a victim of vaccine triumphalism (Mint)
Following the worrying report on the website of the Brazilian drug regulator regarding flaws in Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, India’s first fully indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, Brazil suspended its order for 20 million doses from Bharat Biotech. The Brazilian drug regulator reported that key steps were missed in ensuring the SARS-COV-2 virus in the vaccine was fully killed, but other than this, there have been concerns surrounding the vaccine since its development commenced in May 2020. Regulatory approval was applied for without any efficacy data, participants at its clinical trial complained of mistreatment, and yet, Bharat Biotech has not made attempts to clear the air about its vaccine. Even after DCGI’s approval, the vaccine’s efficacy data has not been published. State institutions haven’t ensured that the vaccine meets highest scientific and ethical standards either. Exaggerated claims about safety have been made by the DCGI even before clinical trials were done. A lot of pride has been expressed and invoked in the name of the Make-in-India campaign for developing India’s first indigenous vaccine in record time. Ironically, it seems to many that Covaxin has done more damage to the Make-in-India campaign than good.
- 26th May ‘21: Why the government loves digital solutions like CoWIN though they exclude millions of Indians (Scroll.in)
There have been critiques of the exclusionary nature of digital platforms like the CoWin portal for vaccine registration. The use of digital technology for registration for vaccinations excludes large segments of the population who do not have access to such technology. The use of such platforms also results in security concerns in terms of the data being collected and stored on these. There is a strong need for large-scale offline mechanisms that reach out to and provide access to vaccinations to those parts of the population that are excluded by the digital divide. The divide itself is caused by technology dependent platforms. Despite this exclusion and technological divide, the government seems to rely on such digital platforms for various reasons. Some of these are: digital solutions signify technological advancement and feed well into the notion of technological leadership, technological solutions enable the collection of personal data of every citizen, especially affluent ones, and perception management of governance can be done though the social classes who are internet users (especially social media users), and hence, they are focused on through digital platforms.
- 26th May ‘21: In UP, Govt Centre Gives 20 Covaxin as Second Dose After Covishield First Dose (Science, The Wire)
Around 20 villagers, from Siddharthnagar district in Uttar Pradesh, who had gotten Covishield as their first dose, received Covaxin as their second dose. There haven’t been any adverse effects on them following this. Although using different doses for the two shots is being considered by various countries, it has not been confirmed yet whether it is advisable for two different vaccines to be administered.
- 21st May ‘21: Karnataka to resume Covid-19 vaccination of 18-44 age group from Saturdays (Business Standard)
COVID-19 vaccination for individuals between the age group 18 to 44 has resumed in Karnataka after it was briefly suspended due to vaccine shortage. The vaccine doses will be initially administered to identified frontline workers. Eligibility certificates, i.e any government issued identity card to be produced at the time of registering on the CoWin platform. There will also be a specified number of vaccination sites and vaccinations as decided by the district authorities based on the availability of vaccines.
- 20th May ‘21: TN CM inaugurates COVID-19 vaccination drive for 18-44 age group, in Tiruppur (The Hindu)
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M. K. Stalin who is touring western Tamil Nadu inaugurated the vaccine drive for the 18-44 year age group category in Netaji Apparel Park in Ettiveerampalayam near Tiruppur district. 20 employees of various knitwear units operating in the apparel park were administered the first doses of the Covishield vaccine as a part of the drive. Following the drive, the CM of Tamil Nadu also received various petitions and cheques from industrialists in the districts who were donating to the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund for COVID-19 relief.
- 16th May ‘21: Vaccination sites to be moved to schools, colleges in Karnataka (The Hindu)
The move to shift administration of vaccines from Public Health Centres (PHCs) to schools and colleges came in order to reduce the risk of individuals contracting the COVID-19 infection while they came to get vaccinated. Deputy Chief Minister and Higher Education Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan, and chairman of the COVID-19 task force says that the shift in vaccine centres will also ensure that individuals who come to avail the vaccine do not come in contact with those individuals who are infected with the COVID-19 virus. “Sources in the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) said vaccination sites would also be moved to spots such as community halls and large office complexes. “All that is needed is an ambulance, a staff nurse, three rooms, and emergency drugs,” a member of the committee said.” The taskforce also made other major decisions such as recognising crematorium workers as frontline workers which ensured that they receive insurance. The taskforce also decided to stop the practice of home isolation in urban and rural dwellings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection among family members and recommended that individuals who test positive must shift to a COVID Care Centre even if they do not have any symptoms.
- 12th May ‘21: Vaccination drive impacted in many Kerala districts as stocks run low (The News Minute)
The vaccine drive in Kerala is at risk of being suspended due to shortage of vaccines. The state currently has around 6.29 lakh doses out of which 2.79 lakh are vaccines (includes both Covaxin and Covishield) which were saved from being wasted and the rest 3.5 lakh are Covishield vaccine procured by the state from Serum Institute. “The 2.79 lakh stock we currently have is what the Union government supplied. We are currently administering vaccines to those above 45 years of age from this batch. The fresh stock of 3.5 lakh Covishield doses that the state purchased will also be administered to those between 18 and 44 years of age. There is no clarity on when further doses from the Union government will be available.”
- 10th May ‘21: Persons Without Digital Access Can Take Help Of Friends, Families, NGOs, Common Service Centres For CoWIN Registration : Centre Tells SC (LiveLaw.in)
The SC directed the Centre to come up with initiatives started by the Central and State Governments for ensuring the immunisation of persons who do not have access to digital resources. The Centre, in response, submitted that such persons without digital access can take help from friends, family, NGOs and Common Service Centres established by gram panchayats at grassroot levels for COWIN registration. Defending its stance, it also informed SC that presently only the online system of registration and booking is available, which it mentioned was a decision taken keeping in mind several administrative factors and for effective vaccine administration.
- 10th May ‘21: Why does India have a Covid-19 vaccine shortage? (Quartz) and 10th May‘21: https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/health/covid-19-why-india-is-facing-vaccine-shortage/2248748/ (Financial Express)
In spite of being one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of vaccines, India’s vaccination drive against the COVID-19 pandemic has faced severe challenges which go far beyond its huge population. The government’s mode of delivering vaccines to individuals has been criticized for being inaccessible- access to technology and stable networks, differential pricing and faulty applications and websites. In addition to this, the shortage of vaccines creates further cause for panic as they open up eligibility of vaccinations to age groups above 18 years only to again suspend the drive for this age group due to shortage of vaccines. Experts share that much more thought should have been put into sustaining domestic needs alongside exporting. The government also fell short in placing an advance order on the vaccines causing pressure in production leading to delays and further shortage.
- 7th May ‘21: Take decision on Karnataka’s Covid vaccine request, HC to Centre (The New Indian Express)
The Union government was directed by the Karnataka High Court to take a decision within 3 days on the request submitted by the state government for supply of Covid-19 vaccines. The state government was directed to submit a request with all the required details of vaccine requirements in the state, and the Central government was expected to take appropriate action within three days. It was also noted by the Court that there was hardly any scope for administering the first dose of vaccine in the state, and emphasised the importance of the Centre considering this as a critical situation.
- 6th May ‘21: ‘Vaccination scenario in state is shocking’: Karnataka HC says ‘impossible’ for non-frontline workers to get inoculated-India News (Firstpost)
The Karnataka High Court directed the state government to state their demand of the number of vaccines required to the Centre, and directed the authorities in the Centre to take decisions in this regard. On hearing this suo moto case on the state management of the crisis, the court also directed the state government to come up with a scheme to assist citizens, especially those from vulnerable sections, to get themselves registered for the inoculation drive, saying that if this was not done, the very objective of vaccination would be frustrated. It noted that the first priority within the available doses of vaccines would be given to those who have taken the first dose and the second priority was to be given to the healthcare and frontline workers. The court stated that “it is virtually impossible for citizens to get the first dose of vaccination unless they fall into these categories”.
- 3rd May ‘21: Centre’s Vaccine Policy Detrimental to Right to Public Health, Equality, Supreme Court Says (The Wire)
The Supreme Court asked the Centre to revise the vaccination policy in a way that it aligns with the Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. On pointing out the flaws, the bench said that the 18-44 age group particularly comprises many poor people and already marginalised minorities like Bahujans, who “may not have the ability to pay” the elevated prices that the two present manufacturers SII and Bharat Biotech have announced for state governments. These flaws, the bench observed, made the policy detrimental to fundamental rights as given in the Constitution. “While we are not passing a conclusive determination on the constitutionality of the current policy, the manner in which the current policy has been framed would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health which is an integral element of Article 21 of the Constitution,” the bench further noted.
- 1st May ‘21: Vaccine shortage delays inoculation Vaccine shortage delays inoculation drive for 18 plus (NDTV); 1st May ‘21: North-eastern states may delay vaccine rollout for 18-44 years (The Economic Times)
Health officials from these eight states, Meghalaya, Assam, Sikkim, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland have said that they have not received sufficient vaccine doses of Covishield and Covaxin. This has caused an inevitable delay in commencing inoculations for those above 18. The Centre announced that it will deliver vaccines to states for the 18+ age category based on the number of people who have registered online for the same. While the central government bore the costs for frontline workers and those above the age group of 45 years, the onus of bearing costs falls on the State governments or individuals who chose to get vaccinated for the 18-45 years age category. Several states also share that they are still waiting to procure the vaccines even after making advance payments due to production related delays. In states like Meghalaya, the vaccine process is being delayed due to technical issues.
- 1st May ‘21: Vaccine shortage delays jab for 18-plus in the northeast (The Hindu)
Phase III of the vaccination drive for the age group of 18- 45 years has been delayed in the eight North-Eastern states due to shortage of vaccines. Many in the targeted group have registered online but vaccine suppliers have been unable to meet the demand. Assam’s Health and Finance Minister has said that orders have been placed for 1 crore doses each from both Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech. Health officials and ministers from Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Sikkim, Nagaland and Mizoram have also confirmed that phase III will be delayed in their states.
- 27th April ‘21: SC asks Centre to explain rationale behind different price slabs of COVID-19 vaccines (The New Indian Express)
The SC took note of the differential pricing of vaccines by Centre, States and private hospitals and asked the central government to explain the rationale behind such pricing. “Different manufacturers are coming out with different prices. What is Centre doing about it,” said the bench, which also asked the Centre to inform the court of the modalities on distribution of oxygen as well as the vaccines to states and the monitoring mechanism.
- 25th April ‘21: Which States in India Have Made COVID Vaccine Free For All Above 18 Yrs? Here’s a List (India.com)
Here is a list of the states and union territories in India that made vaccinations free for everyone, and the ones that have made it free for the age bracket of 18-45 years. This is following the government announcement to start the vaccination drive for those who are 18+ years old.
- 31st January ‘21: Reneging on the ‘no-profit pledge’ to supply Oxford vaccine (The Hindu)
Oxford University and AstraZeneca committed to not operate on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic, a promise that was repeated on several instances; including while signing agreements with CEPI, Gavi and Serum Institute of India. But, this pledge by AstraZeneca seems to come with riders; in its agreement with a research body in Brazil, the company said that it has contractual rights to declare the pandemic over by July 2021. Answering how it would determine the end of the pandemic, Mr. Soriot (CEO of AstraZeneca) said the company would seek “expert guidance, including from global organisations, as to when we can say that the pandemic is behind us.” A similar reneging of promise can be seen from The Serum Institute’s side as well.
- 21st December ‘20: Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine authorised by EU (CNN)
The European Union authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, with the President of the European Commission calling it an important chapter in Europe’s fight against Covid-19. Vaccinations will be made available for all EU countries, at the same conditions and time, and vaccinations are slated to start from December 27th ‘20. Over 2 billion doses have been secured to ensure equitable access to countries across the bloc. A decision regarding approval is also expected on procuring Moderna’s vaccine by January 6th ‘21.
- 23rd July ‘20: Coronavirus | India will have to deliver vaccine on a scale never seen before: Oxford scientist Andrew Pollard (The Hindu)
Scientist Andrew Pollard answers some important questions regarding the vaccination process against the COVID-19 virus, in conversation with Narayan Lakshman. Pollard describes how the vaccination is developed using the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus which helps in building immunity against the virus. He also explains the efficacy of the vaccine against several mutations of the COVID-19 virus. With respect to the efficacy of the vaccine and the protection it offers, he says it has been observed that taking the vaccine, especially both the doses, helps in building immunity, while emphasising how immunity levels for individuals differ. In response to how long the vaccine will take to work in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, he says that it is dependent on the population, and how many contract the virus after receiving the vaccine. He goes on to explain how the pandemic ideally comes to halt when the entire population is immune to the virus and the virus can no longer transmit across persons. However, the newness of the virus increases the length of time taken to build an immune response, and this is where vaccination acts as a bridge, by building up immunity while keeping mortality rates low. With respect to the pricing of the vaccines, he hopes for individuals to be able to get vaccinated at no cost to them, or a very low cost.