A volunteer sits in an empty waiting area outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre as vaccination was stopped due to shortage of vaccine supplies, in Mumbai on April 9, 2021
A volunteer sits in an empty waiting area outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre as vaccination was stopped due to shortage of vaccine supplies, in Mumbai on April 9, 2021
PTI Photo/Kunal Pati

As I write this, the Covid situation in Maharashtra continues to be precarious. Just like its unending failures during the 1st wave, the reckless Aghadi government’s abject incompetence has once again pulled back India’s fight against the Covid second wave.

What makes the situation particularly untenable now is that the Aghadi government has begun to resort to brazen falsehood and propaganda, putting at risk the life of ordinary citizens.

No Vaccine Shortage

First of all, let me reiterate this that there is no vaccine shortage in the state, unlike what is being falsely propagated. A state-wise vaccination consumption plus pipeline availability data clearly shows that on 8th April, Maharashtra had stocks for 8 and ½ days.

By his own admission, state’s health minister Mr Rajesh Tope was quoted as saying on 8 April that the state had 17 lacs doses (which meant at least 3 days’ quota). How did the vaccination centres then go empty instantly?

Was it sheer logistics mismanagement by the state government or was it something more sinister?

It is widely believed now that a significant chunk of the 5 lacs doses of vaccine wasted by Maharashtra till now, has been sold off in the black market to recipients who did not qualify for the vaccine.

That the Shiv Sena has been misusing its power to vaccinate its own out of turn, is already a well-known and published fact.

Anyway, here’s the larger point.

The prioritised access vaccination policy is a universal one, where the most vulnerable sections of society are immunised first. Why? Because the onus is on minimising mortality.

How can the present government of Maharashtra bring down mortality when in the last one month it has not been able to bring down TPR from > 20%.? Bringing down the TPR is not rocket science at this stage. You need to be earnest in your contact tracing efforts, which unfortunately, has been the most lax in the state. How can the state government bring down the mortality rate when it is running short of ICU beds, ventilators and oxygen? Was one whole year inadequate for the state government to spruce up medical infrastructure in the state?

So get this right! The first small pox vaccine was invented in the year 1796, whereas small pox was eradicated only in the year 1980. Covid19 is not going anywhere. The challenge of the present vaccination drive is to help the disease transition from the pandemic to the endemic stage, for which complete immunity of the most vulnerable sections, has to be prioritised. At the same time, the focus needs to be on every state government to keep TPR < 5%, come what may, while ensuring compliance to Covid appropriate behaviour. It has to be a multi-pronged approach. While it is convenient for the fledging Maharashtra government to blame its failure upon the centre’s “vaccination policy”, that amounts to a malafide abdication of its responsibility.

People stand behind a barrier outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre as vaccination was stopped due to shortage of vaccine supplies, in Mumbai, on April 9, 2021
People stand behind a barrier outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre as vaccination was stopped due to shortage of vaccine supplies, in Mumbai, on April 9, 2021
Kunal Patil

Having said that, it is a matter of time, before we approve a couple of other vaccines and the supply increases manifold. If we have not provided a hasty approval to Sputnik V, that is only to ensure the highest levels of safety for our people. The bridging studies of a Russian vaccine, quite logically requires more verification and validation than an entirely indigenous Covaxin. Moreover, there are foreign players involved with Sputnik and approval needs to weigh in more factors than what meets the common eye.

It is a fact that the steep surge in Covid cases in the last few weeks has taken the country by surprise. This requires some culpability to be fixed. We know for a fact now that airport check of international passengers at Mumbai airport, was a huge sham. International passengers have been allowed to escape institutional quarantine by paying bribes and this has apparently gone on for months.

The big question: did the Maharashtra government allow the more dangerous Covid mutants to seep into India? And if yes, then these perverse traits of the state government has played with the lives of the entire country.

Let’s end Vaccine Politics once and for all

A simple question for the opportunist Rahul Gandhi, who has joined into the vaccine for all clamour. Have Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi got themselves vaccinated yet? Why, do they not trust the Indian manufactured vaccine? Didn’t Shashi Tharoor try to mislead the country about Covaxin when it was given approval, hence creating unnecessary doubts in the minds of the limited people who still take the party seriously?

The vaccine for all is a logical extension and will be a reality soon, much the same way the Indian vaccine for the deadly coronavirus became a reality. Until then, trust the Hon PM Narendra Modi and Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who have worked non-stop in the last 14 months, to shield India from the worst impact of the pandemic, to lead a national resurgence and to prove the professional naysayers wrong!

This confident, resurgent India has no room for Doubting Thomases.

(The writer is an author and spokesperson of BJP)

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