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‘Deplorable’: Center Criticizes Maharashtra and Other States for Sowing Panic Over Vaccine Availability | India News

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NEW DELHI: On Wednesday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan lashed out at Maharashtra and some other state governments for their comments on the Covid vaccination campaign.
In a forceful statement, Vardhan said that such “irresponsible statements” are “deplorable attempts” by these states to distract from their own failures.
He also accused them of sowing panic among the people.
“In recent days, I have seen with growing dismay a series of irresponsible statements from some state government officials in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Vardhan said.
The health minister said he is obliged to “set the record straight” as such statements have the potential to mislead the public and spread panic.
“Most worrying of all are the statements made by a section of political leaders calling for opening vaccination to everyone over 18 years of age, or drastically lowering the minimum age criteria for eligibility for vaccination,” he said.
He was referring to the demands of the Prime Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, and the Prime Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray, that the Center should lower the age limit for vaccines.
Vardhan said the vaccination strategy has been developed after extensive deliberation and consultation in partnership with all state governments.
He stressed that the main goal of vaccination is to reduce mortality among the most vulnerable people and allow society to defeat the pandemic.
“Consequently, the largest vaccination campaign in the world was launched in India and the first beneficiaries were our healthcare staff and front-line workers. Once this had progressed to a certain level, vaccination was opened to more categories and is currently open to everyone over 45, ”he said, adding that vaccines are free at government facilities.
He said that since the vaccine supply remains limited, the government has no choice but to prioritize who to vaccinate.
Presenting some facts, Vardhan singled out Maharashtra and said it has yet to inoculate all frontline and healthcare workers in the state.
“When states ask to open the supply of vaccines to everyone over the age of 18, we must assume that they have implemented saturation coverage for healthcare workers, frontline workers and the elderly.
“Maharashtra has vaccinated only 86% of health workers with the first dose. The equivalent figures for Delhi and Punjab are 72% and 64%. On the other hand, 10 states / TUs of India have done more than 90%.”
Maharashtra has vaccinated only 41% of health workers with a second dose. The equivalent figures for Delhi and Punjab are 41% and 27%. There are 12 states / UTs in India that have made more than 60%, “he said.
He said the numbers indicate that the state’s political leaders are trying to divert attention from its “poor” vaccination efforts.
“Doesn’t it seem obvious that these states are trying to divert attention from their poor vaccination efforts simply by continually changing goals? Politicizing a public health issue is a damning indictment from certain political leaders who should know better,” he said. saying.
He also vigorously responded to statements by Maharashtra leaders highlighting the shortage of Covid vaccines in the state, calling the allegations “absolutely unfounded.”
“This is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from the repeated failures of the Maharashtra government to control the spread of the pandemic. The inability of the Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension,” Vardhan said.
Earlier, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said the state is short of vaccines, adding that its stocks will recover in just three days.
Vardhan, in his statement, continued his tirade against Maharashtra, saying that the “indifferent attitude” of the state government has uniquely bogged down the entire country’s efforts against Covid.
“Over the past year, as the health minister of India, I have witnessed the mismanagement and totally casual approach of the Maharashtra government in fighting the virus,” he said.
He said the Center has regularly advised the Maharashtra government, made all resources available and sent core teams for help.
“However, the lack of efforts by the state government is now clearly visible and comes to haunt us all,” he said.
Criticizing the state’s handling of the pandemic, Vardhan said the tests have not been up to the mark and contact tracing efforts “leave much to be desired.”
In addition, he accused the MVA government of sleeping happily behind the wheel while endangering the lives of the people of Maharashtra.
“It is shocking to see how the state government is endangering the people of Maharashtra by allowing people to escape the institutional quarantine mandate for the sake of their personal Vasuli (extortion). In general, as the state has moved from one crisis to another, it seems that the leadership of the state is happily sleeping on the wheels. ”
He also lashed out at the congressional government in Chhattisgarh, which is also witnessing a sharp rise in infections.
“We have seen regular comments from Chhattisgarh leaders who intend to spread misinformation and panic about vaccination. I would like to humbly state that it would be better if the state government focused its energies on improving its health infrastructure rather than on petty politics, ” he said.
Noting the disproportionately higher number of deaths in the state, Vardhan said its testing continues to rely heavily on rapid antigen testing “which is not a smart strategy.”
He also called on the Chhattisgarh government for denying Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin permission even though it received regulatory go-ahead.
“Not only this, by their actions, state government leaders have the dubious distinction of being perhaps the only government in the world that has incited vaccinations,” he said.
Vardhan identified a few other states in which Covid-related efforts should be pushed.
“The quality of evidence needs to improve in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In Punjab, the high case fatality rate needs to be improved by early identification of those in need of hospitalization. The use of masks and adherence to social distancing are rare in large numbers. There is a lot to do there, and we must do everything quickly and on a large scale, “he said.
Urging states to avoid playing politics amid the pandemic, he said India must work together to defeat the pandemic.
“Let us not waste the achievements we have made and concentrate on our solemn public duty,” he concluded.

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