Centre has not given any free vaccines for 18-45 group so far: Sisodia
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Monday said the Delhi government has so far not received any free vaccine for the 18-45 age group from the central government. He also accused the Union government of spending public money on advertising its renewed pan-India vaccination drive, instead of using the money to procure more vaccine doses.
“Now they are claiming to inoculate all citizens for free from June 21st onwards. Upon inquiring about this free vaccination drive, it was confirmed that not a single dose of free vaccine has been distributed in Delhi so far (for the 18-45 group). Only 15 lakh doses of vaccines have been earmarked for Delhi for the month of July, which is not enough to vaccinate all of Delhi. If we receive doses at this pace, then instead of three months, it will take approximately 15-16 more months to vaccinate everyone in Delhi,” said Sisodia, addressing a digital press conference on Monday.
According to Delhi government records, while the Central government has provided at least 5 million vaccine doses to the Capital for free since January, these were earmarked for those aged 45 years and above. For the 18-45 category, the Delhi government procured on its own at least 1.43 million doses since April this year.
The Delhi government has estimated that it needs 23 million doses more to inoculate all adult residents of the city. So far, Delhi has vaccinated 6,521,959, of which 4,942,267 received the first dose and 1,579,692 got both the doses.
Sisodia also criticised the Centre for spending public money on advertisements and said the vaccination drive being run by the Centre may be the largest in the world, but it is going to be the “longest” and the “most mismanaged” programmes across the globe.
“Several newspapers across the nation today (Monday) published long one-pager advertisements on the central government’s largest vaccination drive. State governments such as Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka also published similar advertisements in newspapers thanking the central government’s vaccination drive. The Centre needs to understand that our people need vaccines, not long advertisements. Instead of spending this much money on advertisements, if the Centre had spent it on procuring vaccines from abroad, our Covid-19 crisis could have been managed better,” Sisodia said.
The new vaccine drive by the Centre saw 7.5 milion people across the country receiving jabs on Monday.
The deputy chief minister alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government also put pressure on Delhi government officers to advertise the vaccine drive. “It (the Centre) has been putting pressure on our officials to publish these advertisements. The central government-led vaccination drive may be the world’s largest drive, but it is definitely India’s longest vaccination drive. It is also the most mismanaged, derailed and messed up drive. The Centre has completely botched the whole vaccination drive in the nation,” he said.
Sisodia said Delhi needs about 29.4 million doses, of which 9.2 million are required for those in 18-45 age group and 5.7 million for people in 45+ age category. “When chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that Delhi needed 2.94 crore vaccines to inoculate citizens within three months, why did we receive only 5.7 million vaccines in total so far? All the central government has done is sell vaccines to other countries for its image management. After that, it told all the state governments to float global tenders and purchase vaccines from abroad, while also fixing the vaccine quota for every state. After we criticised the move, the Centre finally changed the policy, and now it is not even giving sufficient doses to states,” he said.
Sisodia further pointed out that vaccination is key to returning to normal. “Vaccination is the only way to defeat the Covid-19 crisis in India. Many countries across the world prioritised vaccinating their citizens first, and with pride announced that citizens can roam about mask-free, because most of them are vaccinated. Whether it was purchasing vaccines from other nations or investing funds in vaccine manufacturing, several nations proved that vaccinating their citizens on a priority basis is significant to defeating the virus. I appeal to the Central government to provide 23 million vaccines for Delhi and I assure the Central government officials that if we receive adequate number of doses, we will release advertisements thanking Modi ji in all newspapers,” Sisodia said.
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP said the Centre has already announced the schedule of vaccine distribution according to which the entire country will get enough vaccines to administer both doses by mid December 2020.
“There is no mess up in the vaccination programme... It will be better if the Delhi government, instead of creating further confusion, adheres to the Centre’s given time table. Sisodia should know that USA has to vaccinate less then 30 crore people, while India has to vaccinate 130 crore citizens. Both USA and India have vaccinated some 28 crore people, so that means Indian plan is going well,” said Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor.