This Covid-19 season, a lot of social media users are bringing up the issue of how the pulse polio programme has been effectively handled, with polio having been eradicated in the country about 7 years ago. This is being pitted against the teething troubles that the covid vaccination drive is facing in India.
The comparison is simplistic. Countering the silly narrative, several commentators are poiting out the differences between a polico vaccination programme and the ongoing covid drive. Columnist Suhas wrote, “Polio vaccine began to be used in 1954. India was declared polio-free in 2014. Making absurd comparisons of polio with a rapaciously spreading disease for which a vaccine has just been discovered is apparently seen as smart in some circles.”
Kawalpreet Kaur, the National President of AISU, is of the view that public wouldn’t have afforded to get us a polio vaccine if it was priced at market rates and needed difficult registrations. “It was a welfare state that saw every child in India got vaccinated & put a full stop on polio. Thus, Infrastructure is not an issue- only ideology is,” she tweeted.
Here again, the analysis is highly flawed. More than 1.8 billion vaccine shots have to be made in two years to vaccinate adult Indians. This needs a lot of scaling up of manufacturing. If manufacturers are not incentivized to sell vaccines at a margin, how are they going to scale up production?