Adopt transparent policy in allocating vaccines, Congress tells government

Spell out road map of meeting its own deadline of fully vaccinating 100 crore citizens by Dec., it says

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the reversion to centralised procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from June 21, the Congress on Tuesday asked the government to adopt a transparent policy in allocating vaccines to the States and spell out a road map of meeting its own deadline of fully vaccinating 100 crore citizens by December.

The Congress reiterated its demand of free universal vaccination, whether these vaccines are administered in a private hospital or a government one, and questioned the government’s decision of continuing with the policy of allowing the private sector to obtain 25 per cent of the vaccine production.

Addressing a virtual press conference, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh claimed that 50 % of the vaccines meant for the private sector have been ‘grabbed’ by 9 major hospital groups with presence in metro cities and that was a ‘dangerous situation’ as it affected supply to smaller hospitals in non-metros and small towns. The government should do away with the procedure of registering oneself in the CoWIN app and set up walk-in vaccination for all categories.

Headline-driven: Jairam

“This government is headline-driven and not deadline-driven,” Mr. Ramesh said. There was need to vaccinate 80 lakh people daily for the country to meet its target of fully vaccinating 100 crore citizens.

“The government must work out a transparent allocation formula in consultation with States for providing vaccines, as we have seen that BJP-ruled States have been favoured by the Central government in the past in allocation of vaccines and medicines,” he alleged .

Citing news reports that the government may need ₹50,000 crore instead of the budgeted ₹ 35,000 crore for the vaccination programme, he said the government could convene Parliament and take the requisite approvals. “What is the road map and policy in achieving this, and how will the vaccines come and from where. The Prime Minister has not said anything about this.”

‘PM was sleeping’

Targeting the Prime Minister for the flip-flop on the vaccination policy, he stated, “ The PM was sleeping and woke up from kumbhakaran ki neend [deep slumber] after the Supreme Court intervened and reprimanded the government. It is a collective crisis brought about by the failures and ego of only one person and the entire country is suffering because of it”.

Asked to comment on the BJP’s assertion that States and Opposition leaders, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, had asked for a greater say for State governments in vaccine procurement, he said none had objected to Central procurement of vaccines.

On April 18, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave suggestions for a vaccination strategy and on May 12, Opposition leaders jointly petitioned the government for free universal vaccination, he pointed out.

Reacting to Union Minister Hardeep Puri’s charge on Twitter that he created vaccine hesitancy, Mr. Ramesh tweeted, “My friend Hardeep should know that I have been a life-long student of science — not of ‘Entire Political Science’. But I must add his attempt to turn into Goebbels Puri seems rather desperate”.

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