On Friday (April 23), Cornell University economics professor and Congress sympathizer Kaushik Basu sparked a controversy on social media after claiming that India has vaccinated only 1.5% of the population.
In a tweet, Basu wrote, “It is tragic, the mismanagement. For a country known to be the pharmacy of the world, to have less than 1.5% of the population vaccinated is a failure difficult to fathom.” He was responding to a propaganda piece, written by ‘journalist’ Barkha Dutt, and published in the Washington Post.
His claims run counter to the actual number of people vaccinated against the Wuhan Coronavirus. As of 8 pm on April 22, a cumulative total of 13,53,46,729 (~135 million) vaccine doses have been administered. On Thursday alone, over 30,16,085 (~3 million) doses have been administered.
It must be mentioned that an individual needs to take two doses of the vaccine to develop complete immunity against the Wuhan Coronavirus. Only then an individual can be considered as ‘fully vaccinated’. As per the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, a total of 11,49,81,424 (~114 million) individuals received the first dose while about 2,03,65,305 (~20 million) of them took the 2nd dose (as of April 22). As such, the government has inoculated a total of ~114 million individuals while about ~20 million of them have been fully vaccinated.
Given that India’s population roughly stands at 136 crore, it implies that 8.45% (114 million) of the population has been vaccinated. Similarly, around 1.49% (20 million) of the population has been ‘fully vaccinated’. While Kaushik Basu’s tweet, referring to 1.5% of the population, might seem closer to the ‘fully vaccinated’ individuals, it must be mentioned that his tweet makes no such reference.
His choice of words, particularly, ‘to have less than 1.5% of the population vaccinated’ makes no clear indication. It, however, suggests that the vaccination programme has been so slow that the government could only vaccinate just 1.5% of the population. This is however not the case. Given that the vaccination programme kickstarted in India on January 16, it has only been 3 months since the first phase. As India conducted the inoculation programme in several stages, most of the individuals are still not eligible for the 2nd dose.
It must be mentioned that there must be a gap of 4-6 weeks (referring to 1-1.5 months) between both doses. Since vaccination is being undertaken in distinct phases, a comparison must therefore be made on a phase-by-phase basis. Given that most individuals have not yet completed the mandatory lag period of 4-6 weeks, it is therefore not recommended for such individuals to take the 2nd dose. Although Kaushik Basu desperately tried to insinuate that the immunisation programme has been slow, nothing can be further from the truth.
It is also notable that while both the vaccines used in India needs two doses, they provide fair level of protection after the first dose also. Therefore, the people who have received the first dose only are not ‘unvaccinated’, as Kaushik Basu seems to be claiming.