On 17th July, India crossed 400 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine administered to the people, with the vaccination rate picking up in the last one month. By the end of the day yesterday, India had vaccinated more than 40 crore or 400 million people, with around 51 lakh vaccinations on Saturday. This crossing the 400 million doses prompted a large number of social media users to inform The Hindu how their prediction vaccination has gone horribly wrong. But the author of the article refused to accept they erred in the prediction, and offered a bizarre justification instead.
On February 26, the newspaper had published an article titled “Data | India unlikely to meet its target of 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by July”. In the article, The Hindu had claimed that while then Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had expected to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses by July 2021, India will be able to vaccinate only 60 million doses by July.
The article had said that if the vaccination goes at the same rate as of February, it will be impossible to administer 400 million doses, only around 15% of the same would be done. It analysed that to meet the target, 2.44 million doses per day will be required, and concluded that it will be almost impossible to achieve.
The article also said that the vaccination rate in US and UK were enough to meet the target set by both the countries, but India’s rate is very slow.
However, proving the analysis of the article wrong, India achieved 400 million doses by 17th July, with 14 days remaining in the month. With the current pace, India will surpass the 500 million milestone with a huge margin.
When the netizens pointed out how the Hindu has turned out to be horribly wrong in its prediction, one of the authors of the article Vignesh Radhakrishnan was offended and offered a bizarre justification to claim that the prediction was right. It may be noted that two persons Naresh Singaravelu and Vignesh Radhakrishnan are listed as authors of the article.
Vignesh Radhakrishnan tweeted that with the vaccination rate of February, India would not have achieved the target. “Story is valid. Mindless trolling does not change the fact,” he stated.
He added that the vaccination pace picked up later, and has dropped again now.
Although it is right the vaccination rate was very low in February and it was impossible to achieve 400 million doses by July, that does not mean Hindu was right in predicting the same. Because it was completely wrong to assume that the rate will not increase and it will remain at February level for months.
Vaccination against Covid-19 started in India on 16th January, and it was a slow start. That is because only the frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19 were eligible for the doses. The availability of the vaccines was not enough at that time for a full-fledged vaccination drive, therefore it was limited to people working in healthcare and other high-risk sectors.
The first phase of the vaccination targeted 30 million people, which included 10 million in healthcare and 20 million in other frontline sectors like police, paramilitary forces, sanitation, and disaster management. therefore, the rate of vaccination in February was bound to be low, as it was a limited drive.
The vaccination after that has been gradually opened up for the general population, first for people above 45 years of age, and then for everyone above 18 years of age. The government had been saying that the vaccination rate will pick up from June-July, by when the productions by the vaccine makers were expected to go up. Accordingly, the vaccination rate has gone up significantly since the second half June, and 400 million doses have already been given.
Therefore, even though the Hindu analysis was arithmetically correct, it was completely illogical to assume that the February vaccination rate will continue, fully aware that at that time it was available only for frontline workers.
After netizens pointed out how their methodology to make the prediction was wrong, The Hindu Journalist Vignesh Radhakrishnan deleted the tweet justifying the article.