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Speak truth on Covid vaccination schedule: Congress’ call to scientists

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 15, 2021

P Chidambaram said, States with limited resources will be at a considerable disadvantage in procuring vaccines

Calls for virtual meeting of Parliamentary Committees to discuss Covid19 pandemic crisis

The Congress has questioned the decision of the presiding officers of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha -- Venkaiah Naidu and Om Birla -- to not to allow virtual meetings of Parliamentary panels. The party said there should be public pressure on the Chairman and the Speaker so that they change their decision.

Congress leader and MP P Chidambaram said the conclusion of the presiding officers is very, very disappointing. “Parliaments all over the world are meeting. Our Parliament should also meet under very severe conditions and circumstances. But if the Parliament cannot meet, at least the Parliamentary Committees should meet virtually. What's the secrecy about discussing a pandemic situation? Depending upon the subject, we must meet. A pandemic situation must be discussed in a public forum. Public pressure must be brought upon the presiding officers to call a meeting, if not of Parliament, at least of the standing committees,” he said.

AICC general secretary Shaktisinh Gohil said the Narendra Modi Government is scared that their failures in managing the pandemic will come out if standing committees start meeting. “This is the same way they demolished Gujarat Assembly's well laid out legislative system. Such a situation should not be allowed to happen in the world's largest democracy,” he said.

Scientists must speak truth

Commenting on the change in the schedule for the second dose of vaccines, Chidambaram said it is yet another example of the flip-flops in the Centre's decision making. “I took my second dose at the end of seven weeks. PM took the second dose at the end of 30-32 days. Many of us are now worried whether now the second dose was effective at all. Should we have waited for 12 weeks? This is a classic flip-flop attitude of the government. They don't think through anything. My suspicion is that they are postponing the second dose because they don't have enough vaccines,” Chidambaram said.

He alleged that the Prime Minister is blaming the scientists for the changes in the schedules. “Earlier they said four to six weeks. Then they said six to eight weeks. Then they changed it to eight to ten weeks and now they are saying 12 to 16 weeks. UK announced that they are going back to eight weeks for people above 50. I am not competent to second guess the medical experts or scientists. My humble appeal to them is please don't play the game of the Government. The government is laying a trap in which scientists and medical experts will fall and the government will pass the blame to them. Speak the truth irrespective of what the Government wants to say. (American immunologist) Anthony Fauci is speaking the truth in US everyday. Unfortunately, we don't have one doctor in the country who can be put on the same pedestal with Fauci whom the entire nation can rely. This is a sad state of affairs,” Chidambaram said.

He asked the scientists to call out the Prime Minister. “Only the ICMR has called out the Prime Minister. The official scientists and medical experts are not calling out the Prime Minister,” the former Finance Minister said.

Deaths in Gujarat

Citing newspaper reports, he said during the period March 1 to May 10 of 2021, Gujarat issued about 1,23,000 death certificates as against about 58,000 death certificates issued during the same period last year (2020). “The increase was an alarming number of about 65,000 death certificates. This increase cannot be explained as a natural annual increase in the number of deaths. It can only be attributed to a pandemic or any other natural disaster,” he said.

He said the difference between the increase in the number of death certificates (65,805) and the official Covid-related deaths (4,218) must be explained. “It cannot be explained as ‘natural annual increase’ or ‘due to other causes’. We have a strong suspicion that the bulk of the increased number of deaths is due to COVID and the state government is suppressing the true number of COVID-related deaths,” he alleged.

“Our suspicions are confirmed by the fact that hundreds of unidentified bodies have been found floating on the River Ganga and nearly 2,000 unidentified bodies have been found buried on the sands along the River Ganga”," he said and added: “We have a strong suspicion that the Government of India, in conjunction with some state governments, is suppressing the true numbers of new infections and Covid-related deaths. If our suspicions are true, this is a grave misdeed apart from being a national shame and a national tragedy.”

Published on May 15, 2021

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