Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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The Political supply chain of Covid vaccine

By SK Nag

Political war of words is echoing throughout the country between states and central ministry, making the whole world know about the limping vaccination process resulting from unnecessary political fuss. Either side of the govt is not correctly addressing the core issues that may benefit citizens. The 50:50 rule of vaccine distribution set by the central govt is too quick a decision to support our pandemic waning program effectively. Vaccination is a must-have tool to break the chain. But administering the jab for such a large population (1.3 billion) is an uphill task for any govt in the world.

Current vaccine production is far below the required rate of production to suffice Indian clinical demand. The vaccination rate must surpass the rate of infection. It is understood to have a reasonable size of the population to be inoculated to break the chain of transmission effectively. The current rate of vaccination drive makes us enter into a rat race. The traditional supply chain management system under government could not function efficiently due to its size and multiple interfacing touch points needing control and monitoring, and the Public Distribution System is one of them. Therefore medical emergencies under which the vaccine to be distributed need an agile, fast-moving, and dynamic ecosystem with much lesser bureaucratic interventions. The stakeholders on the delivery side should be empowered enough to overcome political influence. Block chain kind of networking technology may be of great help. The distributed ledger with full transparency starting from raw materials sourcing to inoculation of a beneficiary can be traced to needed clarity.
Standard immunization programs like pulse polio and other such drives did not encounter any hiccups due to the size of the population being much lesser than Covid vaccination program. Pandemic immunization has multiple pressure points, as the rate of pandemic spread is very fast; therefore, vaccination drive to remain ahead of the infection curve is practically impossible. Secondly, the virus mutation, the nature of the infection, and its identification, tracking are becoming insurmountable. Therefore a much robust SCM is needed. The govt and opposition should start walking together more cohesively to save the nation going beyond their respective political faith and ideology.   Attitude conducive to augment the citizen immune system should be addressed by all political parties without leveraging political mileage. They should not forget that the nation will remember the collective effort put in by all political parties to fight this pandemic.
This pandemic has put us in trouble in multiple directions. Be it employment, survival, getting the medical benefit at the right time, or navigating through online jugglery using expert digital skill and making it to the vaccination center to finally get inoculated with two jabs. All these have put us in severe stress, which is sometimes very difficult to manage; therefore, depression and mental trauma causing secondary illness.  
What should the political supply chain be adopted at this point, then? We should immediately identify increased vaccine sources at this point. Otherwise, by the time we will complete the total population to achieve pandemic immunity, it will be either too late for a pandemic to end, or many people will be waiting to get their first dose due for next year. Govt 2 billion vaccination sourcing plan is the proper steps to achieve pandemic-free India. Still, a lot of the implementation process has to go down in the process from philosophy to reality.
Political exchange of words may not yield the desired results at this point. The honorable Supreme court & the high court had intervened on many occasions, though. Still, the effect of their intervention could not deliver the desired result due to failure to harness political consonance. We have to transform rivalry to collaboration without getting into who is wrong and who is right. Otherwise, this pandemic will kill our economy, from where we will see no point of return. So fight the second wave and prepare for the third wave soon to save this country proactively.

(Author is Industrial Engineer, Fellow Valuer, Chartered Engineer, BEE approved Energy Expert and Industry Mentor. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at saibal.iim@gmail.com)

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