Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan

Fallacy that vaccination process controlled by state, current phase for vulnerable sections, clarifies Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan

ANI | Updated: Apr 06, 2021 21:27 IST

New Delhi [India], April 6 (ANI): Criticism came from various quarters over Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan's remark today that "the aim is not to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it". Responding to a set of three questions sent by ANI seeking clarification on this, Health Secretary Bhushan said that it was a "fallacy that vaccination process controlled by the state, current phase for vulnerable sections, we are following a dynamic supply-demand mapping model."
Below are the answers to a set of three questions asked by ANI seeking clarification from the Union Health Secretary on his remarks today.

Question) You today said that vaccines should be given by need and not want. What is the rationale behind this statement?

Answer) Let us revisit the first principles for our vaccination strategy. The primary aim of vaccination is to reduce mortality among the most vulnerable class of people. Why did we prioritise some groups over others? Because in this phase of vaccination (till around July), vaccines will be in limited supply. Hence we have to prioritise it to the most vulnerable sections of society and this is an established practice across the world. This is also advised by WHO. Thus, we will have to prioritise those who are more vulnerable.

Along with the prioritisation, we are following a dynamic supply-demand mapping model to take decisions of when to open up vaccinations to other age groups. To optimize vaccine availability, we are constantly talking to vaccine manufacturers on how and they be helped to ramp up production. In fact, inter-ministerial teams have visited both Serum Institute of India & Bharat Biotech to understand their requirements and assist them as fast as possible. This assistance can be in the form of financial assistance, scouting new facilities, rapid approvals, etc. Hence we are hopeful that vaccine production may increase in the coming months. This is why we are regularly tracking the supplies available and based on this along with the stabilization of the vaccination process, we may think of opening vaccination for the next age groups.

While we hope for further increased speed, we must also take pride in the speed achieved in vaccination so far due to our scientists and healthcare workers. We just crossed the number of 4.3 million vaccinations per day. To take in context, it is equivalent to vaccinating the entire population of New Zealand in 1 day. Or so far, we have managed to vaccinate the entire population of Germany in less than 3 months. There is no doubt that we should go even faster but shouldn't we be even proud of what we have achieved?

Question) There is criticism that there is excessive bureaucracy and state control in this process. How do you answer that?

Answer) It is a fallacy that our vaccination process is heavily regulated and controlled by the state. We are actively partnering with private sector hospitals. Infact in multiple meetings, states have been asked to increase their participation by removing hurdles, if any. Many local innovations, like 24*7 vaccinations, vaccinations in tie-up with private employers are happening because of our private sector and we are proud of it and we further encourage them.

Question) Some people are alleging that India is not allowing other vaccines. Is that true?

Answer) Well this is just not true. Rather the truth is just the opposite. The Government of India is actively working with various vaccine manufacturers to expedite the process by funding, institutional support, etc. There has been unprecedented synergy here. However we have to understand that there is a process that needs to be followed. The process is not for the sake of bureaucracy, as some would allege, but for the benefit of our people. When we vaccinate healthy individuals, we need to be sure of each minute detail like risk profile, adverse reactions, logistics, etc. (ANI)