Centre’s vaccination policy in “total mess”: Maharashtra Congress

State Congress president Nana Patole said the Centre and the BJP will have to face serious consequences if adequate doses of COVID-19 vaccines are not provided to Maharashtra

State Congress president Nana Patole (File photo)
State Congress president Nana Patole (File photo)
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PTI

The Congress in Maharashtra on Wednesday slammed the Centre for rejecting the demand to open COVID-19 vaccination for more age groups and accused it of adopting a non-co-operative attitude towards the state, which is the worst hit by the pandemic in the country.

State Congress president Nana Patole said the Centre and the BJP will have to face serious consequences if adequate doses of COVID-19 vaccines are not provided to Maharashtra, which is in the grip of a raging second wave of the pandemic.

Responding to the demand for opening up vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 or to lower the minimum age criteria, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has said the current inoculation strategy has been drawn up after extensive deliberations.

At present, everyone above the age of 45 is eligible to get vaccine doses against COVID-19, which has seen a resurgence in the last few weeks, triggering demands to open the inoculation drive for all adults.

Vardhan, in a statement, said the current vaccination strategy has been drawn up after extensive deliberations and and consultations with all state governments.

Given a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, there is no option but to accelerate and expand the vaccination drive, Patole said.

He said due to the Centre’s indifferent attitude, only three states have completed vaccination of 5 per cent of their total population.

So far, only 8.30 crore people have been vaccinated (partially or fully) in the country.

Congress leader Anant Gadgil said Vardhan's comments criticising Maharashtra, a non-BJP-ruled state, over its handling of the pandemic and the vaccination drive was politically motivated.

He said the Centre’s vaccination policy was in a "total mess".

Gadgil said Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope’s statement, that only 3-day stock of the vaccine is left and the Centre has not yet supplied the required doses, clearly indicates a deliberate design to malign the state's image.

"Ideally, the Centre should have given more stocks to Maharashtra and permitted the state government to entirely vaccinate badly affected districts instead of insisting on 60 or 45-plus age group and people with co-morbidities," Gadgil said.

"The vaccine producing capacity of Bharat Biotech and and Serum Institute is 2.5 crore doses per year put together as per newsreports. At this rate it will take years for all Indians to get vaccinated," Gadgil said.

He sought to know why the Centre was not permitting foreign pharma companies who have successfully produced COVID- 19 vaccines to supply their jabs in the Indian market.

Gadgil raised the question of low COVID-19 case counts in election-bound states and asked why the entire national media is talking only about the situation in Maharashtra.

"Has anyone heard the PM or the Home Minister appealing to people to maintain social distancing in any of their election rallies," Gadgil asked.

State Congress spokesman Atul Londhe said the people of Maharashtra, too, are citizens of the country.

The central government should clarify what kind of coronavirus is causing widespread infection in the state so that the right kind of treatment can be given to patients, Londhe said.

"We expect that the lives of common people are not comprised just to ensure you return," Londhe said, alluding to BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis’ "I will return" remark of 2019 about coming back to power in the state.

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