National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Saturday said that the coronavirus vaccine does not belong to any party but to humanity. His comments came hours after Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said that he would not get inoculated against the coronavirus as the “BJP’s [Bharatiya Janata Party] vaccine cannot be trusted,” reported the Hindustan Times.
“The more people that get vaccinated the better it will be for the country & the economy,” Abdullah tweeted. “No vaccine belongs to any political party, they belong to humanity & the sooner we get vulnerable people vaccinated the better.”
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said that he would happily get the vaccine shot. “This damn virus has been far too disruptive & if a vaccine helps bring about a semblance of normalcy after all the chaos then sign me up,” he said in another tweet.
Earlier in the day, Yadav also seemed to urge people not to take the coronavirus vaccine. “When our government will be formed, everyone will get free vaccine,” he said at a press conference. “We cannot take BJP’s vaccine.”
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister also attacked the state government for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “Why cold-chain and refrigerators for vaccine now?” he said. “This government was warding off Covid-19 by clanging plates, claps, and hovering helicopters over hospitals.”
Yadav’s statement invited sharp responses from the Union minister Anurag Thakur and Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. Thakur called Yadav’s remarks “very unfortunate”, according to ANI. “What can be more unfortunate than a young leader linking Covid-19 vaccine with a political party,” he said. “It shows Akhilesh Yadav can’t think above politics.”
Maurya demanded an apology from the Samajwadi Party chief, according to NDTV. “Akhilesh Yadav does not have trust in the vaccine, and people of Uttar Pradesh do not have trust in Akhilesh Yadav,” the Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister said. “His raising questions on the vaccine is an insult to doctors and scientists of the country. He should tender an apology.”
Indian regulators on Friday approved Covishield, a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, for emergency use. Earlier on Saturday, the country began preparing for a vaccination drive by conducting dry runs in a bid to assess the readiness of all states for the roll-out programme.
Meanwhile, India’s coronavirus case count rose to 1,03,05,788 after 19,079 new infections were reported in 24 hours. The toll stood at 1,49,218, with 224 deaths in a day. There are 2,50,183 active cases and 99,06,387 people have recovered from Covid-19 so far. The active cases include at least 29 cases of the new mutated coronavirus as well.