Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday asked the government to evolve a COVID-19 vaccine strategy for the entire population, warning of multiple waves of the virus at the current rate of vaccination.
Noting that India was the vaccine capital of the world and it was possible to escalate the inoculation drive, Gandhi said it was time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be a leader and show that he can organise vaccines for everyone.
"In my understanding, going by the current rate of vaccination guarantees the third wave of the virus. If vaccination was 50-60 per cent you would not have a third wave and certainly not the fourth," he told a press conference.
He said going by today's pace of vaccinations, the entire inoculation exercise will be completed by May 2024 and several waves of Covid will come.
He said lockdown, masks and social distancing are temporary solutions, but vaccination is permanent solution to Covid and the government must evolve a strategy.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The former Congress chief said there is no vaccine strategy in place.
"The prime minister created space for Covid through his actions, he is responsible for the second wave," he charged.
Gandhi accused the prime minister of not thinking strategically.