Days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suggesting to the government of India to make vaccines available for all, Russia’s Covid vaccine, Sputnik V, has been recommended for use in India by a committee of experts as the country battles a record spike in virus cases. If approved by the DCGI, this will be the third vaccine to be used in India after the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield – developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca – and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Amid a massive spike in Covid-19 cases in India, several states, including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand, are reportedly facing coronavirus vaccine shortage. Even in Arunachal, the vaccine shortage is being felt.
Rahul Gandhi was mocked and heavily criticized by the ruling BJP for making suggestions to vaccinate every citizen. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad even accused Gandhi of working as a lobbyist for the vaccine makers. Even though the ruling BJP and its ministers were furiously attacking Rahul Gandhi publicly, they seem to have acted after his letter. This is how opposition leaders should play a constructive role in a democracy. Gandhi’s letter left the government with no choice but to speed up the process to approve other vaccine candidates. India is battling serious shortage of Covid-19 vaccines and the cases are rising at an alarming rate. Along with Brazil, it has become the global hotspot of Covid-19. The Sputnik vaccine manufactured in India by Dr Reddy’s, has the highest effectiveness – 91.6 percent – after the Moderna and Pfizer shots. Dr Reddy’s had applied on 19 February for emergency use of the vaccine, which is in Phase 3 of clinical trials in India. Hopefully, other vaccine candidates too will soon be approved, so that shortage of Covid-19 vaccines is sorted out.