A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s reversion to the old arrangement of the Union government making centralized purchases of vaccines for states, the Centre issued guidelines for this policy switchback. While vax supplies will be provided for free, their allocation will be done by a formula that uses criteria such as population, disease burden and vaccination progress.
The extent to which Monday’s course correction helps quell the pandemic will depend partly on how well-formulated the allotment method’s details are, weightage wise, and how closely it gets implemented. It seems broadly pragmatic. If hotspot states get more doses, not only would it aid overall covid control, it will also serve to disincentivize infection undercounts. A penalty for high levels of wastage also stands to reason, given the persistence of this problem in the face of acute scarcity. States have been asked to post jab availability numbers by district and vax centre. For full transparency, what we need is a national dashboard showing all vaccine-related data, as sliced by the new formula. We need clarity on how exactly our vaccination drive is going. It has largely been a letdown so far.
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