Decentralise vaccination, stop exports: Rahul to Modi

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 09, 2021

In a letter to Modi here on Friday, Gandhi urged the Centre to provide vaccine suppliers with necessary resources to increase manufacturing capacity.

Questioning the export of Covid 19 vaccines when the country is facing “vaccine starvation”, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to place an immediate moratorium on vaccine export. In a letter to Modi here on Friday, Gandhi urged the Centre to provide vaccine suppliers with necessary resources to increase manufacturing capacity.

He said there should be fast track approval of other vaccines as per norms and guidelines. He asked the Centre to open up vaccination to everyone who needs it. He demanded the Centre to double the allocation for vaccine procurement from the existing ₹35,000 crore. The Wayanad MP also wanted greater say for the State governments in vaccine procurement and distribution. He reiterated his demand for direct income support to the vulnerable sections in the “disastrous second wave” of Covid 19.

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Gandhi said in the letter that the country is once again at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. “This is unfortunate considering our scientific community and vaccine suppliers worked overtime to develop a solution but their efforts are undermined by the Centre’s poor implementation and ‘oversight’,” he alleged in the letter.

Despite having the first mover advantage in vaccination, he said the country is moving at snail’s pace. Less than one per cent of the population is fully vaccinated in three months and countries with sizeable populations have managed to vaccinate relatively many more people, Gandhi claimed in the letter. “At our current vaccination rate, it would take years to inoculate 75 per cent of the population. This will have catastrophic effects and will gravely decelerate India’s economy,” he said.

Also read: Will the Covid second wave be more lethal in India?

He asked the Centre to explain why it permitted large-scale exports of vaccines. “While our nation is facing vaccine starvation, more than six crore doses of vaccines have been exported. The State governments are repeatedly highlighting vaccine shortages only to receive intemperate statements by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare targeting Opposition-ruled States, undercutting cooperative federalism which you too have stressed as essential. Was the export of vaccines also an ‘oversight’, like many other decisions of this government, or an effort to garner publicity at the cost of our own citizens?,” he asked.

He said centralisation and individualised propaganda are counter-productive and added that States have been bypassed right from vaccine procurement to registration. “Additionally, a large section of the poor have been excluded due to the initial mandatory online registration,” he said.

Published on April 09, 2021

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