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Investment Hesitancy Restricts India’s Vaccination March

The new political brawl is not about vaccine-hesitancy or vaccine-denial but about the vaccine-scarcity, as the nation is hit hard by the second wave of pandemic. Mumbai, which is staring at a re-lockdown, saw supplies go down by half to about 22K jabs on April 10. Average jabs per day have touched 3.5 million a day versus the combined capacity of 2.4 million a day between Covaxin and Covishield. And there is no immediate capacity expansion in sight as Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawala has written to the Government for Rs 3,000 crore to scale up operations – failing which it will approach banks for loans. Clearly, an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve has been frittered away. Meanwhile, other five vaccines, including J&J via Bio E, will be made available not before October! Suddenly, this realization hits you: Has India failed to reap the dividends of its global vaccine-science leadership due to investment hesitancy? Our failure to comprehend that in a pandemic-like extraordinary conditions, the free-market as well as the atmnirbhar economy operates not only on the principles of demand and competition, but also legitimate corporate profits – and the combo of incentives (guaranteed purchase agreements) and risk capital (for research and capex) extended by the State. This is evident in America’s successful vaccine roll with the state funding private pharma majors. Hopefully, there will be some aatm-manthan when Prime Minister holds the next Covid-19 review meeting with Chief Ministers.