Express News Service
NEW DELHI: After promising that the whole of India’s adult population will be vaccinated against Covid by the year’s end, the government has now rather backtracked from its commitment saying that there is no “fixed timeline” for completion of the drive.
In response to a question by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha on Friday, the Union Health Ministry said that at present, in view of the dynamic and evolving nature of the pandemic, no fixed timeline can be indicated for the completion of the vaccination drive.
It did, however, say that all the beneficiaries aged 18 and above are “expected” to be vaccinated by December, adding that a total of Rs 9,725 crore has been spent so far on the vaccination programme including procurement of vaccines and its operational cost.
Several times over the past few months, many senior government functionaries have assured the country that the Centre is looking to fully vaccinate about 95 crore population in India which was later also shared in an affidavit in the Supreme Court.
So far, only about 42 crore Covid vaccine doses have been administered in the country and the government has said that about 51 crore doses are to be available till July.
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The average vaccination in the country over the last several weeks has been about 40 lakh per day while experts have said that nearly 90 lakh vaccine shots need to be administered every day if the government targets to completely vaccinate all adults by December.
Between August-December, the projected Covid vaccine availability is 135 crore doses—after the government revised its earlier projection of 216 crore doses.
Many states, mainly opposition ruled ones, however, have been complaining that vaccine supply and distribution, facilitated by the Centre, has been laggard.
While the Centre in the Parliament on Friday for instance maintained that there has been no delay in entering into purchase agreements with the domestic vaccine manufacturers and advance payments have also been made to manufacturers for the supply orders, it triggered a fresh political slugfest.
“If this is what, health ministry wants us to believe about vaccine strategy, procurement and distribution, they must explain why states aren’t getting enough vaccines to meet our requirements,” tweeted DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran as his question on Covid vaccine supply to states had received a similar response.
Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh on the other hand pointed out that Rajasthan, ruled by Congress, too has the capacity but not enough supply of vaccines.
“In fact, most non-BJP states are complaining about this. This is a deliberate ploy by the Modi Sarkar,” he wrote in a tweet.