For the programme to be successful, more clarity is needed from the government on the availability of vaccines, says VV Appara.
It is not just the public at large, which is struggling against the pandemic. Some of India’s top companies are feeling the heat because of the utter shortage of vaccines.
Take HCL Tech, which started the vaccination drive for its employees in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on May 12 and plans to extend it to other cities like Chennai soon.
For the programme to be successful, more clarity is needed from the government on the availability of vaccines, says VV Apparao, Chief Human Resources Officer, HCL Tech.
In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Apparao said, “We have started vaccination for our people from May 12. But these are not very large quantities because private hospitals have to get this commitment from the manufacturers."
The company will administer vaccines at two of its campuses in the National Capital Region and one in New Delhi.
HCL Tech has tie-ups with hospitals in Chennai. “We are yet to finalise the date, but that will be sometime during this week,” said Apparao.
The company would need at least 6 lakh doses, both for the employees and the vendors it is looking to vaccinate in the country. “So far, we have got commitment for a few thousand doses in NCR and Chennai and are hoping for the volumes to increase,” he pointed out.
While the company wants to vaccinate the employees and their families in a three-month period, lack of clarity and transparency on production volumes and when it would be made available to them, is posing to be a challenge.
This comes even as the second wave is ravaging the country. India reported 3.29 lakh new cases and 3,876 deaths on May 10.
The healthcare system is crumbling with a huge shortage for oxygen cylinders and beds in states like Karnataka, New Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.
This is impacting the tech workforce as well, affecting many employees and their families. “What we are also seeing is that affected people are struggling to survive despite the best medical attention,” Apparao said.
Also, unlike the older population and those with comorbidities, who were impacted in the first wave last year, the younger population between the age group of 30 and 45 are also affected.
The company has stepped up its efforts to cater to the growing needs for intensive care unit (ICU) beds and oxygen across the cities.
But as the situation persists, it might lead to supply-side challenges, admitted Apparao.
“It (second wave) has peaked in Maharashtra and NCR. Now we are seeing cases increasing in Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. Again, to what extent will they be controlled, or will they become like NCR and Mumbai,’’ he queried, in unknown anticipation.
Vaccination is clearly the solution, as pointed out by multiple healthcare experts.
“It is no longer the 70-crore population in India, but pretty much the 130-crore population, which has to be vaccinated for normalcy to return. But whether the vaccine production will match that increase (is not clear). Also, pricing also is a bit aggressive in private hospitals,” Apparao said.
“At this point in time, we definitely want governments to help us in terms of getting clarity and make vaccines available so that industries can quickly inoculate their people and return to normalcy. Because it is the industry that contributes to the gross domestic product (GDP),” he added.
Apparao said that they ``have represented the government through various forums but we still have not heard anything clearly.”