The central government on Friday asserted that everyone in India will be completely vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of 2021.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar made the announcement hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. Earlier on Friday, Gandhi alleged that the Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government had not understood the severity of the health crisis.
“India’s vaccination will be completed by 2021,” Javadekar said during a briefing. “The health ministry has given a blueprint. One hundred and eight crore people – with 216 crore doses – will be vaccinated by December.”
The Union minister and senior BJP leader also accused the Congress-ruled state governments of not using their quota of vaccines for the 18 to 44 age group.
Javadekar also hit out at Gandhi and his party for having earlier questioned the efficacy of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, Covaxin.
The Opposition and several medical experts had raised concerns related to the vaccine’s safety after it was approved in January without publishing the data on trials. However, this was clarified after the company released the data on March 3, saying that it was 81% effective against Covid-19.
The BJP leader also reiterated his party’s allegation against the Congress about a so-called “toolkit” to defame the Centre.
The controversy began after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted on May 18 with the allegation that the Congress had created a “toolkit” or campaign material to tarnish the reputation of Modi and the central government in connection with the management of the coronavirus crisis. Several BJP leaders, including the party’s National President JP Nadda, had amplified Patra’s tweet. The Delhi Police has been investigating the case.
However, the Congress had filed a defamation complaint, saying that the document spread by the BJP was created using a fake Congress letterhead. The Congress had also demanded that Twitter should include the “manipulated media” tag to the tweets of 11 BJP leaders for allegedly spreading false information against the party.
India’s healthcare infrastructure, which is tackling a surge of Covid-19 cases amid the second wave of the pandemic, has been in shambles as the demand for medical facilities exceeds the supplies.
The country reported 1,86,364 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking the overall tally to 2,75,55,457 since the pandemic first broke out in January 2020. The toll rose by 3,660 to 31,88,95, while the active caseload stood at 23,43,152.