A congressional delegation led by APCC President S. Sailajanath met with Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan on Friday and urged him to impress the Narendra Modi government at the center for running a free universal vaccination program.
In a memorandum presented to Mr. Harichandan, Congress said a universal vaccination campaign was the only way to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and defeat the virus.
Mr Sailajanath said that even as the pandemic wreaked unprecedented havoc and inflicted immeasurable pain on a large population in the country, the “Modi government has shed its responsibilities and left the unfortunate people to their own devices in this hour of crisis”.
When he criticized the “centre’s vaccination plan”, he said the government had “negligently forgotten to procure vaccines and deliberately created a digital divide, which slowed the vaccination campaign.”
Mr Sailajanath said in May last year, when other countries were placing orders to buy vaccines, the Modi government had failed India miserably by not placing the first order for vaccines until January this year.
The congressional leader said, contrary to the center’s claims that 21.31 million doses of the vaccine had been administered as of May 31 this year, only 4.45 million people in the country had received both doses, representing only 3.17% of the country’s population . For the past 134 days, the average vaccination rate has been around 16 lakh vaccine doses per day. He said at this rate it would take over three years to vaccinate the adult population.
He said the prime minister owes the people of that country an explanation of how his government planned to tackle the impending third wave of the pandemic.
Pointing to the multiple price tag for the vaccine, he said it was another example of the Modi government benefiting from people’s misery. A single dose of Covishield from the Serum Institute is ₹ 150 for government, 300 for state governments, and ₹ 600 for private hospitals. Similarly, the cost of Bharat Biotech’s single-dose Covaxin was ₹ 150 for the Modi government, 600 for state governments, and 1,200 for private hospitals. Some private hospitals even charged 1,500 yen for a single dose, he said.
He said the center should raise adequate supplies of vaccines and free supplies to states, and the entire adult population over the age of 18 should be vaccinated by December 2021.