Jab supplies regulated by Centre, not firms: Manish Sisodia
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Monday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre was regulating the vaccine orders placed by states to the two Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers — Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech — and curtailing the doses given to each state.
Sisodia was reacting to the BJP’s allegations that the Delhi government had only ordered 550,000 doses and did not plan the jabs drive properly.
Addressing a press briefing on Monday, Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s nodal minister for managing Covid-19, said the Delhi government in April wrote to the two vaccine makers SII and Bharat Biotech, seeking 6.7 million doses from each. He said instead of the manufacturers replying, it was the central government that wrote back, stating that Delhi was entitled to only 359,000 doses for the month of May.
“When the Centre decided in April that state governments could directly approach the vaccine companies for getting the shots, Delhi government wrote a letter to acquire 1.34 crore vaccination doses for citizens in the 18-45 year age group. But instead of receiving the requested vaccines, Delhi government received a letter from the Centre stating that we would get just 3.59 lakh vaccines, of which 92,840 doses would be Covaxin and 267,690 doses would be Covishield,” he said.
Delhi for two days has warned of an impending vaccine shortage in the city and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, seeking the Centre’s help in procuring more vaccines.
Vaccines for adults below the age of 45 need to be procured directly by the states and private hospitals, according to rules by the Union government, which said that its own vaccination campaign will apply only to those aged 45 and older. Vaccine makers will need to keep 50% of their monthly production for the Union government’s procurement, with states and private hospitals eligible for the rest.
Sisodia’s statement came hours after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused Kejriwal and the Delhi government of being “busy in advertising”, instead of pushing the vaccination programme in the city. Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana said the letters shown by Sisodia stated that the city administration was only “planning” to procure that many doses of vaccine and that the actual order was for far less.
“The Delhi government’s letter to the manufacturers says it is planning to procure the doses which exposes Sisodia’s claim that his government had ordered for the vaccines. The truth is that they did not place an order for vaccines in time,” he said.
Sisodia retaliated by accusing the BJP of “shamelessly lying”. “We do not understand the reason behind such lies because the Centre ultimately decides how many vaccines will be distributed to states, and then to the nations abroad. The papers from vaccine companies and the health ministry itself are proof that the central government has completely overlooked the crisis at hand, and instead exported vaccines to other countries. If 6.5 crore doses that were exported, had been administered to people of the country, so many lives could have been saved,” he said.