The turmoil around the Covaxin affair offers a unique opportunity to draw a parallel between the two governments whose sadism, patronage and neglect have contributed the most to the despair and death of their citizens during the pandemic: the Brazilian and the Indian. Hindu ethno-nationalist Narendra Modi, a powerful prime minister and aspiring autocrat, moved away from other populists at the start of the pandemic and instituted a radical lockdown, but then turned to fanatic denial. In March of this year, Modi, weakened by the collapsing Indian economy, authorized and even spurred massive Hindu religious gatherings which fueled the worst pandemic wave to date.
In managing the vaccination campaign, Modi appears to have been able to implement plans that resemble those that the Bolsonaro government attempted to initiate, but was unable to implement. The Indian government has done everything to delay the approval of so-called mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, which are only expected to be approved in the coming weeks.
The sabotage, which is akin to the systematic refusal of the Bolsonaro government to buy this type of technology, had a clear objective: to create a gigantic market reserve for local vaccines,
produced and distributed by industrialists close to power – of the four companies authorized to manufacture Covaxin, three are state-owned companies run by allies of Modi.
This necronationalist policy involved the approval of Covaxin as quickly as possible, despite all the control protocols. A fatal measure for the credibility of the vaccine, which to date has few buyers abroad and is the target of widespread mistrust among the Indian population. Now the government is chasing the loss.
On Sunday, Modi implored the Indians to immunize against the delta variant.
Besides Covaxin, another pillar of the “Modi Plan” is the involvement of the private sector, a measure considered ineffective and immoral in emergency situations. Fragmented and subject to regional influence games, India’s vaccination campaign, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has been a nightmare.
The decentralized model forces states to compete for inputs; free private sector participation inflates vaccine prices; the digital registration system, which improperly portrays Modi’s image, excludes millions of Indians without telephones or Internet access.
It is no coincidence that one of the main articulators of Covaxin, Ricardo Barros, is also part of the group that has tried to approve the purchase of vaccines by the private sector and, more broadly, to wrest control. of the vaccination campaign at SUS.
If civil society had let Jair Bolsonaro and his allies work, as he so often complains, Brazil would distribute a vaccine of questionable quality through private intermediaries in an uneven and flawed manner, following an ultra-clientelist strategy disguised by rhetoric nationalist. Much more than a vaccine, the Bolsonaro government wanted to import the “Modi Plan” from India: an improved version of its genocidal project.
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