In India, 55 per cent of the population has been inoculated, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandivya said even as Covid-19 Task Force chief VK Paul on Tuesday asserted that the foremost priority right now is to make sure that there is universal coverage of the vaccine and no one is left behind. The statements came against the backdrop of rising Omicron cases in India as well in the world.
Addressing an event at the business chamber Confederation of Indian Industry, Dr Paul said that globally there are 3.6 billion people who are not vaccinated. “We need 7.2 billion doses together, and with the current rate of production, it is well within our grasp. “The Niti Aayog member said that there is a potential scenario that our Covid-19 vaccines may become ineffective and India should have vaccine platforms that are ‘adaptable quickly’ with changing nature of the coronavirus variants.
“How soon can we create a vaccine which is using the same platform, but is now targeted to the variant of the day. “...we have to be ready to be able to have a situation where resiliently we are able to modify the vaccines as they require. This may not happen every three months, but this could happen every year perhaps,” Dr Paul said.
However, while the Government has been claiming to cover more than half of the population under its Covid-19 immunisation programme, the disability sector is not impressed. Dr Satendra Singh, a physician with disability and an activist said: “None of the official Government circulars mentioned disabled people as vulnerable communities; and our multiple demands to provide at-home vaccination to people with disabilities with high support needs were denied by the Centre, leaving disabled people behind.”
Citing the data tabled by the Government in Parliament recently, he said only a tiny fraction of group’s total population of 26.8 million. As per the statistics available by the Union Health Ministry during the ensuing session of Parliament, only 4,018 people with disabilities have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine till November 28. It added that as per the CoWIN portal, 8,390 people with disabilities received the first dose.
“Until and unless vaccine equity plans involve people with disabilities and researchers with disabilities, we won’t be able to flatten the curve,” Dr Singh added.
“As per Census 2011, there are 14.9 million men with disabilities, as compared to 11.9 million women in the country. The total number of differently abled people is over 18 million in the rural areas and just 8.1 million enumerated in the urban settings,” as per a Government document ‘Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) in India — A Statistical Profile: 2021.’