Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao faults Centre's vaccine policy

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on June 06, 2021

Telangana Industries Minister KT Rama Rao   -  The Hindu

In the #AskKTR session, he replied to the state’s vaccination drive and related topics.

Telangana Industries Minister KT Rama Rao has voiced the failure of the Union Government in vaccine administration and procurement during #AskKTR session.

The Minister criticised the Union Government for its inefficiency in procuring the Covid vaccine doses for the citizens of the country.

During the #AskKTR session on Twitter, the Minister replied to queries related to vaccination drive and related topics.

Vaccine demand versus supply

When asked about when the entire population of Telangana will get vaccinated, KTR said, “The problem is vaccine supply versus demand gap. We have the ability to vaccinate more than 10 lakh people a day but unfortunately constraints on vaccine supplies are hampering brisk progress.”

KTR, in his initial tweets, explained why there is a demand-supply gap when India is the vaccine hub. He said, “While all other countries were placing orders for vaccines back in the first half of 2020, the Govt of India woke up late. Our orders were placed in January 2021.”

On Why the.Centre doesn't make a deal with the other countries to get excess doses (of AstraZeneca) and to replenish later, KTR said, “There are more than 50 crore unused doses of AstraZeneca vaccine (called Covishield in India) in various countries; United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway. The Indian Government needs to start a dialogue immediately, procure these as early as possible and allot them to states.

KTR said the US in May 2020 secured several million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine but didn’t use this much under this vaccination programme. Countries like Norway, Denmark & Canada had ordered significant quantities of Astrazeneca vaccine.

Criticizing the Centre, KTR said, “Counting up all vaccine deals per capita, Canada has procured nearly nine doses per person. While all of this was happening, India was pushing Vaccine Maitri and promoting vaccine exports from India.”

On vaccination funding

Responding to questions on Central Government fund allocation for vaccination, KTR said, “The Centre had announced they allocated ₹35,000 crore in the Union Budget for vaccination. Don’t know where that allocation has gone now.”

On private hospitals charging high prices for vaccines, KTR said, “Different prices per different entities have been permitted by Government. For Centre ₹150 & they take 85% of all vaccine produced. In the remaining 15% states & pvt hospitals have to compete. For states, Covishield is priced at ₹300 & Covaxin at ₹400.”

Age restrictions

Talking about the age restrictions on vaccination, Minister KTR said, “This age category vaccination is in fact strategically misplaced in my opinion. Telangana has taken a novel approach to vaccinate High exposure - high risk occupational categories irrespective of age & we are covering both urban & rural areas.”

“The total current production capabilities of Bharat Biotech & Serum Institute as of May 2021 is at approximately 10 Cr doses per month. You do the math as to how this would cover the huge percentage of 18-45 age group which is nearly 80 Cr @ 2 doses each,” said KTR, replying to a question on why centre asked citizens aged between 18-45 get vaccinated in private or State centres.

When a netizen asked, ‘Where is my vaccine?’, Minister KTR said, “Ask the Centre that bungled up & created this situation where states are pitted against one another & against the pvt sector. They didn’t place orders when they had to & even now don’t want to call for a single tender for the entire country.”

“When the states reach out to vaccine manufacturers, they are clearly saying they would rather deal with one entity; Govt of India, who unfortunately seems to have no urgency to go for a global procurement & supply to all Indian states,” the Minister added.

KTR said that the State Government has given a second dose of vaccination to 13.5 lakh people in Telangana.

When asked why the Telangana based pharma companies are not being incentivised to produce doses and take orders from the State, KTR said, “Unfortunately, all their production is being closely monitored by Govt of India who is taking 85% production. In the remaining 15% we have to compete with other states & hospitals who buy at three times the rate. Guess who they would prefer selling to?”

When asked if Telangana Government is opening tenders for the import of surplus vaccines from other countries, KTR said, “Unfortunately, vaccine manufacturers are preferring to deal with one entity, Govt of India, as opposed to multiple entities.”

Published on June 06, 2021

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