Vaccine Media Hypocrisy
I have been trying to follow the news on the pandemic closely. I have also been speaking to a lot of people on the subject and trying to learn more. But my interests are more linked to whether people follow the big picture and what they know about the vaccines and their supplies.
It is astonishing how little people know other than what see watch or hear on their national news channels. Most people do not know that India is the main producer of vaccines and that the amazing Serum Institute of India is providing 60% of the world’s supply. Whilst Britain and other western countries continue to debate on how poorer nations should be accommodated, India has already handed over millions of doses of vaccines to its neighbours and to the World Health’s Organisation’s COVAS programme. Yet the world media covers very little on this subject.
It is still astonishing the stereotypes I hear about India. People from relatively less well-off western countries still believe India is some poor hellhole with bad smells, overpopulation and nothing to contribute to society. Yet their leaders are desperate for the vaccines and inevitably end up phoning Narendra Modi and the Serum Institute for help.
The Serum Institute of India is the world leader in vaccine production, and that it does cheaply. It is expected to produce 1.5 billion vaccine doses in 2021 and that is expected to rise to 2.5 billion early next year. It currently produces 70 million shots per year compared to the 20 million produced by Pfizer in the USA. The company has a history of providing cheaper vaccines than the west and as a result, has helped many developing nations who cannot afford the western overpriced versions.
And when I though knew quite a lot about the subject, I came across a BBC News story on syringes. It of course makes sense, that countries will need syringes to administer the vaccines. And guess what, India is one of the biggest producers of syringes. Rajiv Nath, who heads India's largest syringe factory, says he is turning down as many as 40 requests for syringes from across the world.
Mr Nath's Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices (HMD) is in huge demand now as countries try to ramp up vaccination against Covid-19.
=The factory is currently producing some four million syringes a day but Mr Nath says that's still not enough given that the world needs 10 billion syringes to vaccinate just 60% of its population.
Whilst one can be critical of the coverage, one must give credit to the BBC, which has covered the India vaccine story extensively and has given a much wider perspective than most other outlets. And since many people follow the BBC website, at least some aspect of the big picture is getting out into the international arena.
Let us hope India really does live up to its spiritual legacy and provide the world with a way out into the light.