The Goa government recently declared itself as having completed 100% vaccination of the state’s eligible population with at least one dose which prompted an outpouring of congratulatory messages from BJP leaders from across the country for having completed this ‘feat’. This, they said, was verified through calculating the total number of eligible voters registered on the voting lists maintained by the Election Commission of India and compared it with the total number of people who have been administered at least one dose.
But scratch the surface and one will learn that there is little meaning to these absolute numbers. Firstly, there is no ‘need’ for 100% of a population to be vaccinated for the community to be given adequate protection from severe spread of the disease. Anything above 80% is considered, in statistical and epidemiological terms, to be more than adequate to achieve ‘herd immunity’. So the purpose of wanting to celebrate the milestone remains unclear.
Further, by claiming that 100% of the state has been vaccinated, when clearly there are people still remaining to take their first dose, leaves the government open to questioning on their methods. When it comes to things like vaccinations, there is no way to tell what 100% means. Is the government suggesting that absolutely each and every person who is residing in Goa and is eligible for the vaccine has taken one dose of it?
Given that it clearly isn’t the case, the only other conclusion one is forced to draw is that the figures are questionable and are a huge own goal by the government to claim an unnecessary milestone. Nobody’s perfect and nothing is absolute. Nobody was expecting a situation where 100% of the population needed to be vaccinated. The target always was somewhere above 85% which was considered sufficient to prevent severe outbreaks of the kind seen earlier this year.
However, we understand that the government has gone for the optics of the situation and patted itself on the back for a non-existent milestone in a bid to prove that they are governing well. Now we have a situation where about 30,000 people more than those registered on the voters list have taken at least one dose in Goa. The only thing that should surprise is that the government hasn’t claimed that Goa’s vaccination percentage is more than 100% because if one goes by the absolute figures being relied on by the government that’s certainly the case.
Many people who are not registered on the voting list in Goa but who live and work here have taken their vaccines here, which is probably the reason why the figure has crossed the number of eligible persons. That itself isn’t a problem. But when the government starts using the voting list as the base figure to calculate the percentage, that leaves us with the question as to how many people are left to be vaccinated and what the actual vaccination percentage is.
Rather than inviting ridicule by making scarcely believable claims, the government should instead focus on getting the job done -- making sure that those who are yet to be vaccinated come forward -- including the vulnerable sections of society like the migrant labour -- and ensuring that people who are due for the second dose take it.