The Hue and CRY over Vaccine Exports and What’s the real story?

India is a country of ironies.

We are blessed with people who would question the very same thing that they favored yesterday for the sole reason that they want to target an ideology that they do not align with.

This questioning is purely convenience based and changes every hour, every day, every month, every year or, every term depending upon their convenience.

And that’s the biggest irony of all.

I found this image posted by “DO Politics” on Twitter which sums up the situation..

Nevertheless, back to the point in question.

Vaccines and their exports – the Hue and Cry

As soon as the pandemic took an ugly turn, there was an entire section of the cabals who came out questioning everything about the government’s strategy pertaining to the vaccines.

It is worthwhile to know that this is the same section who were questioning the efficacy of the vaccines and the urgency of the government to get people vaccinated.

One of the biggest question that they had was on the 66 million doses of vaccines that India had exported.

Again, the irony is that this is a rhetoric that is created without really explaining all the aspects of the point that is being questioned.

After all, it wouldn’t suit their convenience if they do that. Isn’t it?

But the problem with this is that, just like every other lies from this section, this too spread like wildfire. You would hear people talking about it on social media, Whatsapp groups, casual chats and discussions etc.

So why really did we export all of those vaccines when we could have used all of that to vaccinate the population in the country?

You wouldn’t find it being mentioned on the likes of “NDTV” or, “THE QUINT” or, “THE WIRE”. Because this doesn’t suit their journalism of convenience.

This is purely based on some research that I did and data that is available for you and everyone else. But then the hard part is that one should be willing to research a bit by themselves and be open enough to consider data points as valid.

Why did India export vaccines instead of vaccinating their own?

Here’s why we had to export Vaccines to other countries.

India has a contractual obligation to export vaccines manufactured in the country as per the terms of the COVAX agreement (Google it if you need more information).

What is COVAX agreement?

Since countries in the world have a tremendous amount of disparity in terms of financial capability, infrastructure, manufacturing facilities and scientific research, World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France put together COVAX as one of the pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

Coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, COVAX will achieve equitable distribution of COVID related help by acting as a platform that will support the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and will also help negotiate their pricing so that countries that are financially weak are not left out.

But Why did we have to get into this contract?

India is the largest manufacturer of Vaccines in the world and SII (Serum Institute) is the largest manufacturer in India (a reason why the German Chancellor went on to yell out from a world stage that it is the mistake of the EU and other countries of the world who let India become the largest pharmaceutical hub in the world).

But we are not the LARGEST RAW material producer for these Vaccines. We have to source these from about 18 different countries from around the world. And their supply to us depends on contractual obligations out of which COVAX is just one.

Out of the 66 million vaccines supplied to other countries, a considerable % was part of the contractual obligations and COVAX agreement, that we had entered into.

The remaining was part of a goodwill gesture that we showed to some of the countries who couldn’t afford vaccines.

While we have temporarily stopped the exports, we wouldn’t be able to hold it for long which is one of the primary worries for Serum Institute of India and the government today.

Why did we start vaccinating only a section of the population and not everybody?

Vaccines aren’t something that is available in abundance or, can be manufactured as and when needed or, at will.

Every country in the world including India, hence decided to prioritise the groups which are vulnerable (older citizens, health care workers, and front-line workers).

The primary purpose of vaccination is mortality reduction and decreasing the burden on the health care system which was clearly laid out by the government in the last year.

Nobody questioned it then because it wasn’t something that fit their convenience then and there isn’t a better strategy to implement the process of vaccination.

We could have corrected the strategy in between by opening it up for all but the amount of strain that would have put on the manufacturing capacities would have created even more chaos which everybody crying in support of this strategy too is very well aware of.

For people who understand organization management, it wouldn’t be difficult to understand that strategical decisions aren’t knee-jerk reactions and that course correcting strategies can only have a long term impact and cannot be short term.

But then when creating chaos is your objective why would you bother to reason out on something.

Asking naysayers to understand this is a waste of time because the same naysayers are the ones who kept questioning the efficacy of COVAXIN citing lack fo 3rd phase trials whereas only the efficacy figures were pending and are today asking to import vaccines and use them in spite of some of them not even completing their 2nd phase trials.

Such is the irony of our country..

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