ankind has been eagerly waiting for a sure-shot cure from Covid-19. The disease has claimed over 14 lakh lives and affected more than 60 million people around the world. Many countries are working on vaccines and, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 170 vaccine candidates at various stages of development now and out of those eight are at final stages. Till a robust cure for the virus is found, any vaccine that can prevent the deadly virus from entering our bodies is welcome. In this context, the claims by various pharma majors such as Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sputnik that their formulations can be effective between 90 per cent and 95 per cent are heartwarming. Countries like the US, the UK, Russia and China have made rapid strides in vaccine development and this has piled up pressure on India – home to nearly 10 million infections and a toll of 1.40 lakh – to find its own vaccine against the virus. The assertion earlier this week by Adar Poonawala, CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII)—the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, that his firm can produce 100 million doses of Covishield – a vaccine that can provide 90 per cent protection against Covid-19 – has delighted the people of the country. And rightly so. Unlike its peers in the US, the UK and some other countries whose vaccines will benefit their own countrymen first, the made-in-India Covishield will be suitable for Indian climate. It does not need minus 70 degree Celsius to minus 80 degree Celsius temperature for its storage.
The news has enthused stock markets and the market rally has been held up by back-to-back breakthroughs. Indian stock markets have been reaching new peaks every succeeding day. Equity indices resumed their rally Thursday after a day’s breather amid largely positive cues from global markets. After a volatile session, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 431.64 points or 0.98 per cent higher at 44,259.74. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty surged 128.60 points or 1 per cent to 12,987. In an inverse momentum, gold, a safe haven to park cash at times of uncertainty, is beginning to slump over last few days. However, the news about vaccines has come amidst resurgence in the Covid-19 cases in Delhi even as states like Maharashtra have clamped prohibitory orders to ensure compliance with precautionary measures. Maharashtra Monday made RT-PCR negative report mandatory for every incoming visitor to the state. Many more states are expected to follow suit. This is going to be an effective step in stemming the reach of the disease. The mandatory negative report will catapult the number of daily tests in the country as people will have no option but to carry a test report on person when visiting these states.
A fast-paced testing is an effective way of preventing the fast spread of the virus. The prospect of an early release of vaccines, even though not cent percent effective, can go a long way in putting the wheels of the economy back on rails. At the least, people can now expect that we can have half a dozen vaccines up and running by the end of the second quarter of the next fiscal. Airlines, hotels and aeroplane makers — three industries ravaged by the pandemic-induced collapse — are most likely to find tailwinds going forward. Public transportation, live entertainment and restaurant dining businesses will also find an upturn. From here on market rally will depend on every development on the vaccine front. Vaccine makers are yet to clear various challenges. Given the complexities involved in vaccine development and the humongous logistical challenges, we may have to wait for a shot for at least one more year. Till then, there won’t be any real recovery in the economy.