'Narrow politics': Harsh Vardhan on states raising Covid vaccine demand
Harsh Vardhan said if states demand more vaccines from the Centre, then the "whole-of-government" approach to tackle the pandemic gets harmed.
With states complaining that they are not receiving an adequate number of vaccines, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said this approach harms the holistic approach of the government and arouses narrow political passion among the masses. The remark came as the minister reviewed the Covid-19 situation with six states, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Delhi. All these states have been badly hit by the second wave of the pandemic.
During the meeting, a common demand from all the states was to increase the quota of vaccines for the states. As vaccination for people in the age group of 18 to 44 years began from May 1, states have been reporting vaccine shortage as the present supply is not adequate for both the age group of above 45 years and below 45 years. Since the centre has asked states and UTs to focus on the population of 45+ as they are more vulnerable and many of them have already received one dose, states including Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan have halted the vaccination of people below 45 years for the time being.
The minister said that the production capacity of vaccines is being ramped up and the states have the non-government channel to procure vaccines for their population. While by non-government channel, he referred to the Centre's new strategy of allowing states to get vaccines directly for vaccine makers, health ministers present at the meeting requested the minister for a common policy for procurement of vaccines from foreign manufacturers.
Contrary to the health minister's statement, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said each state approaching foreign vaccine makers dents India's image in the world as states have been pitted against each other in this vaccine race where richer states and civic bodies will be ahead of others in getting foreign vaccines.