First, Great Britain decided not to recognise Bharatiya vaccines and continued imposing ten days quarantine for the people coming from Bharat. After pointing out that the Covishield is nothing but an Oxford-AstraZeneca formulation, the vaccine that is used in Britain, the excuse came in the form of CoWin App that is adopted by around fifty countries to administer the vaccine. What are the real reasons for Great Britain’s distrust towards Bharat’s world-lauded vaccination program?
Bharat is a unique example of undertaking the biggest and most challenging vaccination drive of the world with a combination of indigenously and globally developed vaccines. In December, Pfizer and Moderna got emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration. Around the same time, Oxford-AstraZeneca, after clinical trials, received clearance in Europe. By January, in Bharat two vaccines were made available for dealing with pandemic, after stage-III clinical trials. Covishield (a formulation of AstraZeneca licensed to the Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin developed by Bharat BioTech helped in reducing the Covid-19 impact throughout India. At the same time, it allowed Bharat to give a helping hand to many countries across the world through the Vaccine-Maitri initiative. Bharat supplied around 668 lac vaccines to 95 countries out of which 107 lacs were in the form of grant. Remember, this was when the USA and European countries were busy hoarding vaccines beyond their immediate requirement or selling them at higher rates.
Bharat’s initiative was not limited to developing vaccines outside the developed world and supplying them to other countries but promoting the cause of vaccine equity by urging waiver of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for COVID-19 vaccine before the WTO so that the life-saving vaccine become accessible and affordable to low-and middle-income countries. Again the resistance came from the European block and the powerful Pharma lobbies.
Though Bharat has subsequently given approval for Sputnik and Moderna vaccines, it is through the private players that partnerships are established. Undertaking the biggest vaccination drive in the world, as on September 23, 2021, Bharat has administered more than 80 crore doses, both first and second doses of the currently-approved vaccines. All this is without buying any vaccine from predatory pharma giants like Pfizer.
For the former colonisers, with their exploitative and condescending mindset, such self-respecting initiatives of Bharat are nothing short of rebellion against the existing vanguard. This problem is not limited to Great Britain alone. As of now, the US has approved only Covishield vaccinated travellers to visit from November onwards. Without making the data of clinical tests public, Chinese vaccines like Sinovac and Sinopharm got global clearance – another sad trend for the democratic world.
The Covid-19 crisis is not yet over. Smaller waves are recurring in many parts of the world. Another challenge in the form of Talibanism has worsened the situation for global peace and stability. Nothing much can be expected from China with its irresponsible and non-transparent behaviour about the origin of the global pandemic. The so-called ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ is nothing but State Capitalism as is evident from the Evergrande real estate crisis. In such a state of flux, democracies should display some civilised and amiable behaviour towards each other. Instead, profiteering and monopolising protectionist tendencies are being promoted. Bharat, with its civilisational wisdom, is trying to show the path by acting upon self-reliance at the national level and strengthening the bonds for an interdependent world. In the larger interest of humanity and cosmic existence, democracies should come together to endorse this model in order to counter the combined threats of pandemic and Islamist-Communist alliance.