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Health Minister accuses state for ‘demanding universal vaccination’

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan criticized the Opposition-led State of Maharashtra, which has blamed it for demanding universal vaccination for all grown-ups to cover up its “poor vaccination trials”.Maharashtra, which has and remains to view the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, was placing its citizens at risk by enabling them to escape institutional quarantine for “personal vasuli (extortion)”, Dr. Vardhan noted in his objection. “Overall, as the State has lurched from one crisis to another. It seems as if the state leadership is happily sleeping at the wheels.”

Recently many states, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh have been accused of random vaccine supplies. The Centre has consistently stated that there were no deficiencies, that the vaccine strategy was set in place after discussion with States, and because “supply was limited”, the preference had been to vaccinate healthcare and frontline workers and organizations in danger. Though the various Opposition-ruled States were corrected, much of Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s anger was aimed at Maharashtra. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in a no-holds-barred drive on the Opposition-led State of Maharashtra, has criticized it for compelling universal vaccination for all grown-ups to cover up its “poor vaccination efforts”.

“In particular, I have seen statements made by public representatives in Maharashtra about the shortage of vaccines. This is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from the Maharashtra government’s repeated failures to control the spread of the pandemic. The inability of the Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension. To spread panic among the people is to compound the folly further. Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis, and State governments are being apprised regularly about it. Allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless,” his letter records. He pointed out the three States all driven by non-National Democratic Alliance governments to debate that they were arriving up short associated with different other States on vaccinating healthcare workers, frontline workers, and those above 45 years, and attempting to “politicize” the pandemic.

He also chose out Chhattisgarh for “petty politicking” and stated that the State’s overarching confidence on fast antigen tests and its early rejection to use Covaxin delivered it the “dubious distinction of being the only government in the world to drive vaccine hesitancy”.He said 10 States had immunized over 90% of their healthcare workers when Maharashtra had managed “only 86%”, and Punjab and Delhi had carried out 64% and 72%, respectively. “Between frontline workers, Maharashtra has injected only 73% with the first dose. Similar numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 71% and 65%. 5 Indian states/UTs have already made more than 85%. When it gets to senior citizens, Maharashtra has treated just 25%, Delhi has vaccinated 30% & Punjab has vaccinated only 13%. There are 4 states/UTs that have already injected more than 50%. Doesn’t it seem obvious that these States are attempting to distract awareness from their weak vaccination attempts by just continuously changing the goalposts?”

Between a second wave, which is presently viewing over 100,000 new cases being calculated every day, there’s been a protest for opening up vaccines for all adults. However, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has stated that its production lines have been extended and that India must give it 3,000 crores to expand production capacity. The company generated about 65 million vaccine doses a month and “most of it” was for India. However, with India presently administering over 2-4 million doses a day, the supply could immediately dry up. The Centre has also requested 20 million doses of Covaxin by Bharat Biotech though there are again anxieties over how fast the company can ramp generation for the pitched 120 million doses. Bharat Biotech, too, has demanded funds from the government for ramping up production.

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India has provided about 64.5 million doses of Covaxin (made by Bharat Biotech) and Covishield (by SII) to at least 84 foreign governments as of March 29 and has served 84 million doses to its people. So far, only 5% of Indians have taken at least one dose and 0.8% have been completely immunized.“The vaccines are not merely the wants, but the rightful need of people. All adults should get vaccinated with government as the sole assurer of quality without necessarily being the sole provider of vaccine services,” said Giridhar Babu, epidemiologist, and professor, and head, Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India.

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