Apex court slams Modi govt over ‘mishandling’ second Covid surge

The Supreme Court has asked the Central government to revisit its present vaccination policy for Covid-19, reports MUDIT MATHUR

Commenting on the present policy the court mentioned that it would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health which is an integral element of right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. Amid the blames of policy paralysis inflicted upon Modi government over its inability to handle the exigencies of second Covid surge, the Supreme Court has asked the government to revisit the present vaccination policy for Covid-19 adopted by the Central government.

The country had been suffering from policy paralysis to coup up emergent situation cropped up after outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. It failed to take timely decision to enforce a planned lockdown taking into confidence the state governments and administrative machinery to gear up it for taking recommended precautions and treatment.  The government continued to ignore warnings of World Health Organisation (WHO) and continued its mass gathering programmes including historic civic reception to American President Donald Trump in Ahmedabad and Defence Expo-2020 in Lucknow.

The reality is that the magical thinking displayed by the Indian government — which claimed the pandemic was in its “endgame” in March as the country bowled towards a second wave of infections.

The country has been experiencing unique type of policy paralysis due to centralisation of power. Now it has taken life threating dimensions after the heavy causalities suffered by people all over India suffocated for a breath. There seems to be no preparedness to handle such a disastrous situation as people roamed from pillar to post to just get an oxygen supported bed in some hospital.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an attempt to showcase his humanitarian gesture at international forum, tweeted with pride of supplying vaccines to about 60 countries of the world while ground realties turning bad to worse.

The April surge of coronavirus infection exposed the hollowness of the government’s claims and forced it to import vaccines despite Serum Institute India being largest manufacture of the vaccines. The SII overburdened with its international commitment of supply schedules and facing notices and legal action for its delay as many countries gave advance orders much prior to launch of the vaccine.

Union Health Ministry on 28 April 2021, gave the order of 11 crore doses of Covishield vaccine during May, June and July to SII paying it advance of  1732.50 Crores. As on date, 8.744 crore doses have been delivered till 03.05.2021 against the last order of 10 crore doses of Covishield vaccine. Similarly, Bharat Biotech India Ltd (BBIL) got supply orders for 05 crore Covaxin doses during May, June and July and an advance of  787.50 crores has been paid to them. The BBIL supplied 0.8813 crore doses of Covaxin vaccine against the last order of 02 crore doses. These payments were placed after apex court took the sue moto cognizance of the humanitarian crisis in the wage of the second surge of Covid 19 infections resulting in deaths all over the country.

The indecisiveness on the part of the government to place orders to vaccine manufactures about the quantity has further goofed up the supply chain as meanwhile they picked up orders from other countries and bound with stern terms of international contracts. It resulted short supply of adequate quantum of vaccine to meet domestic needs. The shortage has resulted in by and large stoppage of vaccination in the private hospitals.

The apex court also considering the impact of differential pricing of vaccine doses asked the Union government to revisit its policy keeping in mind the principles of equity and right to health as an integral part of the right to life.