As the COVID-19 vaccination drive picks up steam, several states have flagged shortages, even as citizens complained of their inability to book a slot. While India has so far granted emergency usage approval to three vaccines, only two are in use - Covaxin and Covishield. And in recent days with cases continuing to rise, several states have decided to take matters into their own hands.
Thus far, nine states including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Delhi have opted to float global tenders to meet their needs. The Rajasthan government also plans to take a similar step in the days to come. In Maharashtra, the government is making requests for more stocks from the Centre as well as to source it from the international markets. The BMC plans to float global tenders for the same this week.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal however sees this as a matter of concern. While the national capital is on the list of states that have turned to global tenders, the AAP leader contends that it would be better for India to "procure vaccines on behalf of all Indian states". As he put it, there were now states competing against each other to secure vaccines.
"Indian states left to compete/fight with each other in international market. UP fighting Maha, Maha fighting Orissa, Orissa fighting Delhi. Where is “India”? Portrays such a bad image of India," he tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet, he noted that approaching vaccine manufacturers and their countries as an unified nation (rather than individual states) held far more "bargaining power"
"Indian government has much more diplomatic space to negotiate with their countries," he opined.
On Thursday morning, India added 3,62,727 new coronavirus infections and 4,120 fatalities in the last 24 hours. This takes the cumulative COVID-19 tally to 2,37,03,665, while the death toll rose to 2,58,317. According to the Union Health Ministry data, the active cases have increased to 37,10,525 comprising 15.65 per cent of the total infections.