After Jharkhand, now Chhattisgarh refutes Centre's claim about high vaccine wastage

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Amid continuing criticism of its vaccination policy, the Centre on Thursday tasked its top COVID-19 advisor VK Paul to bust “myths” with “facts”. Getting right on to the task, Paul charged that the vaccination drive had been going on smoothly until the states sought “opening up of the process and decentralisation”. 

He listed out seven widely talked about “myths” on the vaccination drive.  Shifting the blame for a chaotic vaccination drive to the states, Paul said: “The Centre ran the entire vaccine program from January to April, and it was quite well-administrated compared to the situation in May (new policy came in force from May 1, allowing those above 18 years for vaccinations).”

Responding to criticism from some state governments that the Centre should be procuring vaccines instead of the states, Paul said, “The GoI has merely enabled the states to try procuring vaccines on their own, on their explicit requests.”

Hitting out at some states over failed global tenders to procure vaccinations, Paul said, “States, that had not even achieved good coverage of healthcare workers and frontline workers in three months wanted to open up the process of vaccination and wanted more decentralisation.”

He added, “Health is a state subject & the liberalised vaccine policy was a result of the incessant requests being made by the states to give states more power. The fact that global tenders have not given any results only reaffirms what we have been telling the states from day one: that vaccines are in short supply in the world and it is not easy to procure them at short notice.”

Responding to claims that the Centre has not approved vaccines available globally, Paul said it has proactively eased the entry of vaccines approved by US FDA, EMA, UK’s MHRA and Japan’s PMDA, and WHO’s Emergency Use Listing into India in April.

At times, Paul’s exercise of busting the myths included thinly-veiled attacks on opposition leaders. “The behaviour of some of our leaders, who in spite of full knowledge of the facts on vaccine supply, appear on TV daily and create panic among the people is very unfortunate,” he said without naming anyone.