90% Covid deaths in second wave could have been avoided: Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday that 90% of Covid-19 deaths in the second wave were “needless” because the patients could have been saved if oxygen or drugs were available. He demanded a commission to look into “what went wrong” in the government’s strategy and emphasised that a Covid-19 compensation fund must be created to help families who lost their bread-earners.
Releasing a white paper on Covid-19 prepared by the Congress’ research department, Gandhi also said that “vaccination should be done on war footing”, because inoculating 60% or 70% of the population is not sufficient.
“There are two types of Covid-19 deaths. Deaths that are needless in the sense those could have been saved. The other type of death is when there is high comorbidity. In the second wave, 90% deaths were needless because oxygen was not available,” Gandhi said.
“The PM’s tears can’t wipe off the tears of the victims. People know that oxygen could have saved their near and dear ones. But the PM didn’t take the issue seriously. He had to fight elections,” Gandhi added.
India administered over 8 million vaccine doses on Monday, after the modified vaccination rules were withdrawn in favour of a centralised vaccination campaign, in which the government administered free vaccine to all.
The Congress leader maintained “good work has happened yesterday [Monday]” but cautioned that vaccination has to be a process and not “a series of events”. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala added that during former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s regime, 120 million children were administered pulse polio vaccine on a single day in 2012.
Reacting to the Centre’s plea in the Supreme Court that it doesn’t have money to compensate for Covid-19 deaths, Gandhi said the government must announce a compensation package for the poor. “The Centre is making ₹4 lakh crore through cess on petrol and diesel. It has taken money from the people. They can give any name they want but a compensation plan is required,” Gandhi said. An economic assistance process is also a significant part of the white paper published on Tuesday.
The Congress leader said that aim of the white paper is to provide the government with suggestions so that it can be ready when the third wave of the pandemic comes. “The government should not repeat the mistakes it did in the first and second waves. It should be ready with infrastructure to tackle the third wave,” Gandhi said.