Need quick, complete inoculation, not BJP’s lies: Rahul Gandhi on Centre 'extending' Covishield dose gap
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday targeted the central government over extending the gap between two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). In India, the vaccine is named as Covishield and is produced by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).
Rahul Gandhi, who has been the most vocal critic of the Centre’s response to the pandemic, has time and again criticised it over its vaccination policy. On May 28, he said vaccination is the only permanent solution to combat Covid-19 and only a minuscule percentage of the country’s population was inoculated. He also pointed out that if vaccination continues at the present pace, the entire population will be only inoculated by 2024.
Citing a report from news agency Reuters on his Twitter handle, Gandhi said on Wednesday the country needs quick and complete vaccination against the viral disease and not the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) usual brand of lies and rhyming slogans to cover up the vaccine shortage caused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government. “GOI’s constant attempts to save the PM's fake image are facilitating the virus & costing people’s lives,” Gandhi added.
The Reuters report which Gandhi referred to, stated the Centre increased the gap between two doses of Covishield from 12 to 16 weeks on May 13 without the agreement of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTGAI). The Centre said that the NTGAI recommended the move. But three of the 14 core members of the advisory group dismissed this claim and said the NTAGI did not have enough information to make such a recommendation.
Echoing the claims of the three NTAGI members , M.D. Gupte, a former director of the state-run National Institute of Epidemiology, told Reuters on Tuesday that the NTAGI supported increasing the interval between two doses of Covishield to 8 to 12 weeks- the gap which is also advised by the World Health Organization (WHO). Gupte added the advisory group had no data with regard to extending the time interval beyond 12 weeks.
However, Dr NK Arora, the chairman of NTAGI, said on Wednesday the decision to increase the gap between two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks is based on fundamental scientific reasons adding there was no dissent when this decision was taken.
“We have a very open and transparent system where decisions are taken on a scientific basis. The Covid Working Group took that decision, with no dissenting voice. This issue was then discussed threadbare at an NTAGI meeting, again with no dissenting notes. The recommendation was that the vaccine interval has to be 12 - 16 weeks,” Dr Arora told ANI.
More than 260 million beneficiaries have been vaccinated against the Covid-19 disease in India till now, data from the Union health ministry showed. Of these, 2,800,458 were inoculated in the last 24 hours. The country saw a slight increase in its daily tally after 62,224 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, taking the caseload to 29,633,105.
(With agency inputs)