“We were lucky compared to what might have been. But the story is not over. The virus keeps surprising us.
-Giridhar Babu, Public Health Foundation of India
India added a record 2,17,353 new coronavirus infections in a day taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,42,91,917, while active cases surpassed the 15-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday, April 16, 2021. India continues to lead the world in terms of average daily cases detected. The nation now accounts for one in every four cases reported globally every day. As of April 14, India recorded over two times the average daily cases detected in the United States.Due to the daily increasing cases the covid vaccine is in demanding and when the demand start increasing it is very obvious that the price will automatically start rising. This vaccine is working as a life saviour for millions of people. India is exporting its vaccine to various countries also.
VACCINE DEPLOYMENT AND WEAK OR NON-EXISTENT DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS
The successful implementation of COVID-19 vaccination programmes will require robust supply systems. Such systems will need to ensure effective vaccine storage, handling and stock management; rigorous temperature controls in the supply chain; and the maintenance of adequate logistics management information systems. This is vital to safeguard the COVID-19 vaccine supply and prevent any interruptions from the point of manufacturing through to service delivery.
There are corruption risks throughout the entire vaccine deployment process. As an example, vaccines may be stolen from the public supply chain during the transportation process and diverted to the black market or kept for personal
use. Vaccine supplies are also at risk once they reach the hospital or public health facility administering the vaccinations, if there are no reliable oversight measures in place. Public health facility staff may also steal vaccines for
resale in the black market or in their own private practices. This risk is particularly pronounced when supplies are limited, and demand is high, as is the case during a pandemic.
CORRUPTION RISKS IN VACCINE PROCUREMENT
Under normal circumstances, the public procurement process poses one of the greatest risks for corruption among all government functions. The large volumes that are involved in public procurement make it highly vulnerable to corruption risks.
In many countries, public procurement is estimated to comprise as much as 15 – 30 per cent of the gross domestic product. Corruption scandals in procurement are widespread, but in the health-care sector, the procurement of
pharmaceuticals and medical devices are particularly prone to corruption.
Corruption risks can be found throughout the procurement cycle. During the pre-bidding phase, corruption risks include inaccurately estimating the demand for a particular product or service, circumventing tender procedures, and deliberately tailoring tender documents to favour a particular bidder. During the bidding phase, there is the risk of government officials receiving bribes or kickbacks from suppliers, as well
THE PRODUCTION OF SUBSTANDARD AND FALSIFIED VACCINES
With the urgent global demand for vaccines, there is a risk of substandard and falsified vaccines entering a market. Corruption may facilitate the involvement of organized criminal groups in the manufacturing of and trafficking in falsified vaccines, and the production of substandard vaccines by others, particularly when supplies will be limited in the early stages of vaccine production and deployment. This risk is further compounded if quality assurance measures are absent or bypassed during the emergency response, resulting in adverse health outcomes for the population and an erosion of public trust in the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. Organized criminal groups take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by attacking vulnerabilities and gaps in health and criminal systems. This includes the manufacturing of and trafficking in falsified medical products, driven by the huge global demand and competition in products for COVID-19 prevention, diagnosis, treatment and risk protection.
MEASURES TO REDUCE CORRUPTION RISKS
In the context of these significant challenges, it is suggested that Member States consider the following immediate and long-term response measures to identify and mitigate corruption risks that may compromise the access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the population. The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the only legally binding, universal anti-corruption instrument. It provides a global framework and key tools to foster accountability, integrity and transparency in times of crisis, during and beyond the COVID 19 pandemic.
1.Specialized committee to oversee emergency funds and vaccine deployment:
The creation of a specialized committee with a strong anticorruption mandate to oversee the prioritization, distribution and monitoring of vaccine programmes, as well as related public policy, can act as a critical oversight body during a public health emergency. Its functions should include the capability to monitor the emergency disbursements of funds, the purchase of vaccines, and the distribution of vaccines and related processes in “real time” so that any red flags can be identified and addressed quickly.
2.Transparent and accountable vaccine procurement: Transparent and accountable public emergency procurement processes are vital during a pandemic and can be fostered through open contracting and e-procurement. Open contracting may be effective at reducing corruption because it provides the public with information about who is buying what, from whom, at what price and quantity. In addition, e-procurement can be effective at tackling corruption. It allows for the public dissemination of relevant data, such as the bidding and awarding of contracts through a dedicated website, thereby ensuring the element of transparency.
3.Secure storage and distribution systems to mitigate corruption risks:
Secure storage and distribution systems are critical for the safe delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and the mitigation of the risk of vaccines being diverted from public supply to black markets. Manufacturers are already developing strategies to prevent the theft of vaccines. This may include measures such as ensuring the storage of vaccines in undisclosed locations, the use of a Global Positioning System tracking system to monitor supplies in transit, and the use of “dummy” trucks to confuse criminal networks. Hospitals may need to ensure that the rooms where COVID-19 vaccines are stored have heightened security.