TNIE Covid Think Tank: Vaccination should be the priority now, says Dr Swapneil Parikh

By Express News Service
Universal vaccination is the key to fighting a pandemic as large as COVID-19 and it should be our single greatest national priority at present, said Dr Swapneil Parikh, a physician and the author of the book The Coronavirus. 

“We have to do that to scale, diversify our vaccine portfolio, backup distribution and do all of that on a war footing. Everything else is a distraction right now. If we were serious about it, this is what we should have been doing in January-February,” he added while speaking at The New Indian Express’ online event COVID Think Tank that aired on June 8, 2021. 

Dr Parikh was speaking on the topic Second Wave: What We Need To Know.

He said that we are a little too late in realising the importance of vaccines. “This is something we had to do in January. You have to roll out the vaccines in time for them to have maximum impact during the peak. Once the peak is done, if we roll out vaccines and scale them, we aren’t maximally benefitting from it. When 500 million doses should have been procured at a time, vaccine manufacturers were making 10-20 million doses. There was no clarity, as we left them with uncertainties. The only focus should have been on scaling, diversifying our vaccine portfolio — more than just the two-three vaccines we have in India now. There has been a lot of lethargy and inertia in thinking that, somehow, India will have a different reality than others. But now it’s a little too late,” Dr Parikh explained and assured that if we do everything right, things could get back to normal sooner than a year.

How did we get here?

Having a lockdown and then opening up everything does not make sense, said Dr Parikh. The outbreak size and the epidemic scale remain the same in this case, he added.