Dismissing the “hue and cry" by certain states about partisanship by the Centre over the allocations of Covid-19 vaccines as “farce", Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said that non-BJP ruled Maharashtra and Rajasthan figured among the top three states based on numbers.
To drive his point home, he presented figures to show that the Centre still had 2.4 crore vaccines in stock and about 4.3 crore vaccines were in the pipeline, indicating there are sufficient doses available for all states.
“Hue and cry by certain states about partisanship by the Union government is just a farce, an attempt to hide their own incompetence. Maharashtra and Rajasthan are 2 of the top 3 states based on allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses. “Both are non-BJP governed states," Vardhan said in a tweet. Releasing the figures, he said in another tweet, “Let’s put an end to fear mongering now! #COVID19 vaccine doses: total administered: 9 cr+ In stock/nearing delivery to states: 4.3 cr+ Where does question of shortages arise? We’re continuously monitoring and enhancing supply."
In a strongly-worded statement, Vardhan on Wednesday hit out at Maharashtra and some other states, accusing them of trying to cover their “failures" and spreading panic among people by demanding vaccination of all without inoculating enough of eligible beneficiaries.
People above the age of 45 are currently eligible for vaccination. Vardhan also said the allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless and the states, including Maharashtra need to improve the implementation of their testing and containment strategies and vaccination drive.
He said the “lackadaisical" attitude of the Maharashtra government has “singularly bogged down" the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus. Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday sought to know why the state was getting fewer number of COVID-19 vaccine doses as compared to some other states, including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, even as it is leading the vaccination drive and has the highest number of active cases in the country.
Supply of Vaccines Abroad Won’t Hamper Domestic Requirements: MEA
Asserting that India has not imposed any export ban on anti-coronavirus vaccines, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said the supply of made-in-India vaccines abroad would continue while also taking care of the country’s domestic requirements. The MEA’s assertion comes amid an ongoing debate over export of vaccines with some states having flagged a “shortage" of doses and the Centre maintaining that sufficient quantity of the jabs have been allocated to all the states and that many of them have been unable to inoculate all eligible beneficiaries.
Asked about the status of made-in-India vaccine export and whether domestic calls flagging vaccine shortages could impact the supply abroad, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We have always said the supply of made-in-India vaccines abroad would continue taking into account our domestic requirements."
“Let me reiterate that there is no ban on export of vaccines. In fact, the website of our ministry is being regularly updated to reflect the supply of vaccines that are happening on a periodic basis," he said. On a question on AstraZeneca sending notice to the Serum Institute of India for not fulfilling its international commitment under ‘GAVI’ and ‘COVAX’, Bagchi said, “Regarding the issue specific to Serum institute, I would refer you to the company itself, they would be best placed to answer that question." On the issue of procurement of raw materials from the US for vaccines manufacturing, the MEA spokesperson recalled that Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had informed during a media briefing that the issue had been taken up with the US.
India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring anti-coronavirus vaccines.