Amid reports of several states facing shortages of Covid-19 vaccines, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that every citizen will be inoculated against the disease, PTI reported. The finance minister said that states are allocated stocks based on the spread of the infection and the density of their populations.
“The central government supplies it [vaccines], well in advance so that they can announce as to how much is being given, seven days prior...this [is] happening every month, it keeps coming,” she told reporters in Bengaluru. “All states will be taken care of.”
The finance minister said that the supplies will be “well-managed”. “I wish to assure through the media that all people’s interest will be taken care of and everybody will be vaccinated,” she said.
Her comments came on the day the Odisha government said it had stopped the vaccination drive in 16 districts of the state due to shortage of Covishield doses, PTI reported. Only 223 centres were administering doses to the beneficiaries in 18 districts, The New Indian Express reported. In the other 12 districts, there was no vaccination.
In Assam, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led was able to vaccinate only 16.63 lakh beneficiaries in the last 10 days due to the shortage of doses. This was almost 45% less than Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s target of inoculating 30 lakh people.
Mumbai’s civic body also suspended vaccinations at 300 centres on Thursday due to the shortage of stock, the Hindustan Times reported. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation also said that doses will be administered for only three hours on Friday.
As states grapple with the lack of vaccines, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday accused Opposition leaders of making irresponsible statements about India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive. He asked them to give up their “shameless urge” to play politics amid the pandemic.
The health minister said that states had been informed about the number of vaccine doses they would receive in July.
“If these leaders are aware of these facts and are still giving such statements, I consider it most unfortunate,” he said, without elaborating.
India’s vaccination drive
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a modified vaccination policy on June 7. It came into effect on June 21. Under this 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 fell to 54.22 lakh.
As reported by Scroll.in on June 22, the record was enabled by a slowdown in inoculations in some BJP-ruled states in the preceding days. Many beneficiaries in Madhya Pradesh also said that they did not even get a single dose despite receiving messages from the government claiming that they had been vaccinated.