New Delhi: Reacting to the criticism he received for his statement on Covid-19 vaccination for “those who need it”, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday said it was a “fallacy that vaccination process is being controlled by the state”
“It is a fallacy that our vaccination process is heavily regulated and controlled by the state. We are actively partnering with private sector hospitals. In fact, in multiple meetings, states have been asked to increase their participation by removing hurdles, if any. Many local innovations, like 24×7 vaccinations, vaccinations in tie-up with private employers are happening because of our private sector and we are proud of it and we further encourage them,” Bhushan said in an interview to ANI.
Reacting to demands of opening Covid-19 vaccination of all age groups, the union health ministry on had on Tuesday said it will not be opened to all ages as of now. “Many people ask why we shouldn’t open vaccination for all. There are two aims of such vaccination drives — to prevent deaths and protect the healthcare system. The aim is not to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it,” Bhushan had said while addressing a press conference on the current Covid-19 situation in the country.
The Union health ministry’s statement came after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and IMA urged the Centre to start a wider vaccination drive.
Talking about the principles for central government’s vaccination strategy, he said on Wednesday, “The primary aim of vaccination is to reduce mortality among the most vulnerable class of people. Why did we prioritise some groups over others? Because in this phase of vaccination (till around July), vaccines will be in limited supply.”
“Hence we have to prioritise it to the most vulnerable sections of society and this is an established practice across the world. This is also advised by WHO. Thus, we will have to prioritise those who are more vulnerable,” he said.
The Centre, Bhuhan said, is following a supply-demand mapping model to decide on when and how to open up process for other age groups. “We are constantly talking to vaccine manufacturers on how and they be helped to ramp up production.”
The inter-ministerial teams have visited both Serum Institute of India & Bharat Biotech to understand their requirements and assist them as fast as possible, he told ANI, adding that the government is optimistic about the increase in vaccine production in the coming months.
“While we hope for further increased speed, we must also take pride in the speed achieved in vaccination so far due to our scientists and healthcare workers. We just crossed the number of 4.3 million vaccinations per day. There is no doubt that we should go even faster but shouldn’t we be even proud of what we have achieved?” he said.
India kick-started its Covid-19 vaccination drive on January 16 with two vaccines – Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited.