Sisodia hits out at Centre for jab exports
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia attacked the Centre on Sunday for sending Covid-19 vaccines to other countries even as India was facing a vaccine shortage, calling it “image management”.
“When it was time for our youth to get vaccinated, Delhi government opened centres all across the capital but (the) central government gave only 5.5 lakh vaccines for the youth. 5.5 lakh vaccine for our youth and 6.5 crore vaccine for other nations. These numbers show that our central government doesn’t value the lives of our younger generation,” said Sisodia in a press statement on Sunday.
Citing a report in The Indian Express newspaper, Sisodia said the Centre sold coronavirus vaccines to 93 countries of which 60 per cent had Covid-19 under control, and also where there was no threat of loss of life due to the virus.
“A report published by Indian Express claimed that (at) a time when Indians were reeling from Covid-19 and deaths, (the) central government, instead of collecting vaccines for India, sold 6.5 crore doses of vaccines to 93 other nations. Upon doing further research, I found out that 60% of these 93 nations have not reported many Covid cases. In fact, 88 of these 93 nations have not reported many deaths and therefore do not see fatality rate as a big challenge,” Sisodia said.
“If other nations, countries like Canada, US gathered enough vaccines and prioritised vaccinating their own citizens first, then why did India fall behind? No other nation, except France, exported vaccines to other countries before fully vaccinating its own people. France exported 1 lakh doses after ensuring enough stock for its people,” said Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s nodal minister for Covid-19 management and inter-ministerial coordination.
India has so far supplied over 60 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, mostly Covishield, to 76 countries. This includes 8.5 million doses provided as grants and commercial supplies of 34 million doses.
Last month, other opposition parties also attacked the BJP-led Union government for exporting vaccines in the face of an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases. The government, however, rejected the criticism as “short-sighted”.
“If you ask why are you exporting (vaccines) at all, somebody (else) will ask - why am I exporting to India. That is so short-sighted. Only non-serious, irresponsible people can make that argument,” external affairs minister S Jaishankar said last month.
Close to 1.8 million individuals between 18 and 44 years have received their first Covid-19 vaccine shot, shows Union government data.
“Ten states account for 66.78% of the cumulative doses given so far in the country,” said Union health ministry in a statement.
As per the recent government data, nearly 500,000 Covid-19 positive cases currently are in the intensive care units (ICUs), with over 170,000 persons on ventilator support at various hospitals across the country, with many more seriously ill patients in need of a hospital bed.
There was no response from the Union government and the BJP on Sisodia’s remarks till the time of going to press