Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday once again claimed that there was no shortage of vaccines in the country. He dismissed vaccine shortage concerns raised by several states as “fear mongering” and said that more than 4.3 crore shots were in stock or nearing delivery.
Sharing a set of data, he pointed out that Maharashtra and Rajasthan were among the top three states to have received the largest number of vaccines. “Hue and cry by certain states about partisanship by the union government is just a farce, an attempt to hide their own incompetence,” he said in a tweet.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope picked holes in the Centre’s vaccine allocation strategy, suggesting that his state needed more shots than others.
“Maharashtra has double the population of Gujarat...Gujarat has got one crore doses and we have [also] got one crore doses,” Tope said, according to NDTV. He added that the weekly stock of vaccine doses allocated to Maharashtra was not enough.
“I have just been informed that the Centre [has] increased [weekly supply of] Covid-19 vaccine doses from 7 lakhs to 17 lakhs,” Tope said, while speaking to reporters on Thursday evening. “Even this is less because we need 40 lakh vaccine doses a week.”
The tussle about vaccine supply between the states and the Centre began after Tope on Wednesday said that Maharashtra was going to run out of vaccines in the next three days. He added that he had informed Vardhan about an imminent shortage. At least five other states also flagged similar concerns. Odisha was forced to shut down 700 of its vaccination centres due to a scarcity of coronavirus vaccines.
However, Vardhan rejected the claims in a statement on Wednesday and said that they were “deplorable attempts” by state governments to distract attention from their failures to control the pandemic, and to spread panic among the people. The health minister also reiterated the Centre’s stand against opening up coronavirus vaccinations for all age groups – a demand made by various entities, including the Delhi and Maharashtra governments.