Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday accused Opposition leaders of making irresponsible statements about India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, and asked them to give up their “shameless urge” to play politics amid the pandemic. However, he didn’t elaborate on these statements he referred to.
In a series of tweets, Vardhan said that in case states were facing problems in their vaccination drives, it was their responsibility to plan better. “Intra-state planning and logistics are the responsibility of the states,” he said.
Vardhan urged Opposition leaders to put more energy in “planning and not in creating panic”. He did not name any political leader in particular. “I request these leaders to desist from their shameless urge to play politics even in the midst of a pandemic,” he added.
The health minister’s remarks came amid reports of shortages of doses across several states. The Odisha government had to pause vaccination in 16 districts on Thursday, according to PTI. West Bengal prioritised vaccinating those who were due to receive their second dose, The Telegraph reported. In Mumbai, all government-run vaccination centres were shut on Thursday.
Vardhan tweeted a series of “facts” on India’s vaccination drive. “After GoI [government of India] provided 75% of vaccines available for free, vaccination speed picked up & 11.50 cr doses were given in June,” he said.
The health minister added that states had been informed about the vaccine doses they would receive in July. “This info was shared with states 15 days prior, along with details about day wise supply total of 12 cr [crore] doses shall be made available in July,” he added. “Pvt [private] hospital supply will be over and above this.”
“If these leaders are aware of these facts and are still giving such statements, I consider it most unfortunate,” the health minister added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a modified vaccination policy on June 7. It came into effect on June 21. Under the policy, the Centre would provide vaccines free of charge to beneficiaries in the 18 to 44 age group. The government will buy 75% of the vaccine produced by companies, including 25% assigned to states.
Private hospitals will, however, continue to buy the remaining 25% of the vaccine stock. This means some beneficiaries will have to pay for their vaccines if they choose to get inoculated at non-government medical facilities.
The Bharatiya Janata Party claimed a record number of Covid-19 vaccine doses (86 lakh) were administered on June 21 because of the Centre taking back the charge of procuring vaccines from the states. The very next day, the number of doses administered in India reduced to 54.22 lakh.
Scroll’s.in report on June 22 showed that the record was enabled by a slowdown in inoculations in some BJP-ruled states in the preceding days.