Days after he accused the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of not managing the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, on Friday, made a strong case for additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines to Maharashtra amidst the rise in cases and deaths. He tweeted, “I have discussed the matter with Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and Chairman of National Task Force on COVID-19 Dr VK Paul. They have assured increased supply of vaccines to Maharashtra depending upon the actual use. I request the Maharashtra government to double the vaccination target from tomorrow.”
Javadekar’s change in his stand came a day after Maharashtra recorded 35,952 new COVID-19 cases and 111 deaths. Already Maharashtra Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope had urged the central government to supply 20 lakh doses per week. The state needs a supply of 2.20 crore doses to immunise the 60 years and above age group and 45 year and above age group with comorbidities.
Earlier, on March 17, Javadekar had slammed the MVA government over the pace of vaccination. In a tweet, he said, “The Maharashtra government has only used 23 lakh vaccines out of the total 54 lakh vaccines sent to the state till March 12. 56% vaccines remained unused. Now, the Shiv Sena Member of the Parliament (MP) asks for more vaccines for the state. First mismanagement of the pandemic, now poor administration of vaccines.”
However, Tope had countered Javadekar’s charges. He said, “I respect Union minister Prakash Javadekar. I spoke to Dr Harsh Vardhan and Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan that we have vaccine stock for 10 days. We have not said that there is any partiality. We merely told the central government that we are vaccinating more people and that can continue if the state gets more doses. We will need 20 lakh doses per week and also need more centres.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced that the state government will double the number of vaccination centres from 300 to 600 in the state. He made a fresh appeal to the central government and sought Javadekar’s help for getting additional supply of vaccines.