While India continues to struggle with the 2nd wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, vaccine hesitancy has been weakening the country’s fight against the Wuhan Coronavirus. Although a total of 18.58 crore doses have been administered so far, a growing population of the country is still hesitant to the idea of being jabbed against the deadly virus.
While speaking to ANI, an Ayush worker named Sadashiv Mandawar informed that residents of the Dhanora Tehsil villages in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra were hesitant to get inoculated. He said, “Only 40 people of the 45+ group took the vaccine. Others think they’ll die after inoculation. The elderly think vaccination for 18+ will make them infertile.”
“We share our experience with them that we’re healthy after taking the vaccine to encourage them. But they say frontline workers get different vaccines. We’re trying to create awareness with help of other departments in the village,” he concluded.
We share our experience with them that we’re healthy after taking the vaccine to encourage them. But they say frontline workers get different vaccines. We’re trying to create awareness with help of other departments in the village: Sadashiv Mandawar pic.twitter.com/vxCyJrbvAv— ANI (@ANI) May 19, 2021
The motivated campaign of left-liberals, Congress and Opposition parties
Amidst the rising cases, we had witnessed how the left-liberals, Congress ecosystem, and other Opposition parties had tried to derail the ongoing vaccination drive. While some opposed vaccination programme to turn around their political fortunes, others targetted the vaccine manufacturers in a bid to demoralise them. One of the strategies employed by them was discrediting the indigenous Covaxin vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech. The government had approved its emergency use in the month of January.
Using this as the primary tool for propaganda, Congress leaders such as Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, and Chhattisgarh health Minister TS Singh Deo trivialised the vaccination drive altogether. This is despite the fact that Covishield (developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca) and manufactured by Serum Institue of India (SII) was primarily used until Covaxin completed the third phase trials (with 81% efficacy). Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav had gone even a step further to claim that he could not trust ‘BJP’s vaccine’. He claimed that he would only get vaccinated when his government is formed after the next election.
Lawyer-turned-activist Prashant Bhushan had discouraged the Indian government in early February from procuring the Covershield vaccine from a private company, the Serum Institute of India (SII). He had blamed the government for supposedly splurging ₹35,000 crore funds for Coronavirus vaccines at a time when the pandemic is ‘naturally dying down’ in India.
Role of leftist media in creating vaccine hesitancy
One of the key roles played in the dissemination of ‘vaccine hesitancy’ has been the pivotal role played by a section of the media. The Print had been at the forefront of this campaign. Through its articles, it cast aspersions on the approval process for Covishield and Covaxin and propagated apprehensions about their safety and efficacy. It even insinuated that doctors were having doubts over the efficacy of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin
Leftist propaganda site The Wire too published articles that played a part in promoting vaccine hesitancy. Casting doubts over which the vaccines were approved, and by extension questioning the efficacy of the vaccines, The Wire published an article whose headline read: “India has gained two vaccines but its regulators have tarnished Indian Science”. The article argued that none of the two—Covishield and Covaxin—have presented the requisite data needed for approval and yet they were permitted for emergency usage by the Drugs Controller General of India.
They collectively led a nefarious online campaign to create panic and cast aspersions about the efficacy of the Coronavirus vaccine, the result of which now reflects in news stories as shared above. This has aggravated the situation, with many refusing to get jabbed against the Wuhan Coronavirus. The continued effort at creating this ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is now endangering the lives of countless people, who have fallen prey to their vicious propaganda.