Nitin Gadkari says he was 'unaware', a day after his vaccine ramp-up suggestions
Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said he was not aware that the government already spelt out the vaccination ramp-up plan in which different vaccine makers are being invited to boost the manufacturing. This comes a day after the minister, in a video address on Tuesday, suggested that more companies should be given the licence to manufacture the vaccine. The Union minister's comment met criticism as Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said this suggestion was given by Dr Manmohan Singh. "But is his Boss listening?" the Congress leader said in an apparent jibe to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Not only Dr Manmohan Singh, but several chief ministers also suggested this knowledge sharing to increase India's vaccine production.
"If the demand for vaccine is more than the supply, it creates the problem. So, instead of one company, let 10 more companies be given the license to manufacture the vaccine," Gadkari said. This is something the government has already started doing as three public sector undertakings — Hyderabad's Indian Immunologicals Limited, Uttar Pradesh's Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation and Mumbai's Haffkine Institute for Training — will start manufacturing Covaxin.
Gadkari on Wednesday took to Twitter and admitted that he was "unaware" that efforts have started towards ramping up vaccine production before he gave his suggestion on Tuesday.
"Yesterday while participating at the conference organised by Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, I had made a suggestion to ramp up vaccine production. I was unaware that before my speech Minister for Chemical & Fertilizers Shri @mansukhmandviya had explained government’s efforts to ramp up vaccine production. After conference, he also informed me that, GoI is already facilitating vaccine manufacturing by 12 different plants/companies and rapid ramp up of production is expected in near future as a result of these efforts," Gadkari wrote on Twitter.
The Centre has recently decided to allow more pharma companies to take up vaccine production. Defending that the idea to rope in more pharmacies was not an overnight decision, prompted by the suggestions of state chief ministers and opposition leaders, Niti Aayog (health) member VK Paul recently said that such complicated knowledge transfer does not take place in a week.