The New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh state governments have invited companies to provide them with 1 crore and 4 crore vaccines respectively, against the tenders raised by these states. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to have urged for 1 crore doses through a tender. More states are expected to follow suit as the Centre remains taciturn and shows no sign of a procurement drive.
India’s vaccination drive has plummeted, with only 9.5% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose. Daily inoculations have reduced to an average of 2.5 million from 4.5 million. “Each state is in desperate need of vaccines. With vaccines falling short and the Central government making no push, the states have themselves decided to procure the doses by coordinating with foreign companies. However, it is of little use,” said Alabhya Bajpai, a prominent lawyer at Jabalpur High Court.
Need for Centralised Procurement
This strategy of acquiring vaccines individually by each state, will not only become a moot point for them but also leads to fragmentation of existing vaccination procedures, thereby reaping competition. “Global companies won’t consider requests from individual states as not only do these states quote different prices, providing each one of them with their respective doses and keeping a track of them becomes tumultuous and haphazard for them.
The centre should raise tenders on a united forefront,” explains Bajpai. New Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and the Health Minister of Mumbai Rajesh Tope have also criticised this act of procuring vaccines stating that it would create undue tension and competition between the states.
States Struggle, May Waste Resources
Top expert Dr. Gangadeep Kang has called such individual tenders a “waste of resources on the part of the country.” Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are running short of vaccines and states are making maximum efforts to keep themselves afloat. However, experts believe that these tenders are not only useless but will also cause a lag in the existing vaccination drives. “India’s bargaining power is much greater than the individual states. A country’s proposal on procuring will create a greater impact and the companies will consider it better than those from individual states. Also, it might be impossible for the foreign companies to furnish such small quantities in light to bulk orders given by other countries”, said Dr Shalini Arora, Head of Microbiology at Rama Medical College.
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Centre’s Stepping Up Crucial
“It’s high time for the Central government to make centralised efforts. India has received 1,50,000 of Sputnik-V from Russia and others from different countries. But since the need is national, it becomes the Centre’s duty to act without dozing,” added Dr Arora.
Many countries have placed advance orders with vaccine companies while the rest are making their best efforts to procure the doses. If the Indian government does not make active efforts to procure the vaccines, it might be too late when a third wave hits.