Lessons India can learn from Europe's coronavirus vaccine drive

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Mar 19, 2021, 10:53 AM IST

The government is making concerted efforts to check the spread of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron (representative image). Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

In countries such as Israel, the UAE and UK, mass vaccination is slowing the spread of the virus. In fact, the decline has been sharp

After some months of relief, coronavirus cases are now once again surging in India. India may now have entered its second wave.

Yesterday, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual meeting with chief ministers. He told them that 70 districts have reported a 150 per cent increase in cases.

Today, India reported more than 35,000 daily cases — the highest in more than three months. Maharashtra is the worst affected state. It accounts for 65 per cent of the new cases.

Restrictions, lockdowns and night curfews are back in several cities.

Reports say Indian officials are blaming the surge on crowding and the reluctance of people to wear masks. New variants could be a factor too. India has recorded 400 cases of the UK, South African and Brazilian variants, as per reports.

There is now a growing demand to open up the vaccine programme. Rapid vaccination would definitely help in containing the surge.

In countries such as Israel, the UAE and UK, mass vaccination is slowing the spread of the virus. In fact, the decline has been sharp.

According to a report, about 6.5 per cent of the vaccine doses are going to waste in India. India's health ministry had distributed more than 75 million doses to states but only some 36 million doses have been used so far.

So, the supply of coronavirus vaccine is certainly not the issue. Taking a cautious approach could hurt India's chances of defeating the pandemic.

So, if the shots are safe, India should allow everyone to take the jab. Perhaps, it could take some lessons from Europe. The region's over-cautious approach to vaccines could be costing lives.

Europe's vaccine drive hits back

Europe's pandemic response is in a state of disarray after several countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca shot while fresh cases are surging.

Reports say that across the EU, new infections have spiked. From 200 per million in mid-February to 270 per million as of last weekend, Italy — which was one of the biggest hotspots in Europe last year — is imposing another nationwide lockdown. It is a measure to slow down the third wave of cases.

Italy is now reporting more than 22,000 cases on average in seven days while an average of 360 people die every week, as per reports.

France is facing demands from health experts for another lockdown. Three days ago, France reported more than 26,000 new cases.

The country's resuscitation units are now running at nearly 82 per cent of their capacity which is the highest since November 2020 — when France was in its second lockdown.

There is a third wave in Germany too. In the past week, the number of cases grew by 20 per cent. Germany has extended its shutdown till March 28.

Europe is losing lives to the virus while vital doses are being wasted.