Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope announced that the state may run out of COVID vaccines in three days and that he had asked the centre to send more stocks soonest, with cities like Mumbai forced to shut down vaccination centres or turn away people.
Tope said, “Centre is partial towards Maharashtra, Gujarat has got 1 crore doses and we have got 1 crore doses whereas Maharashtra has double the population of Gujarat. This is not an issue that the Centre and state should fight on. We don’t want to blame anyone.”
While replying to Tope, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, “Deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people”. The “lackadaisical attitude” of the Maharashtra government had singularly bogged down the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus, he said in a furious statement. Harsha Vardhan called them “irresponsible statements” that had the potential to “mislead the public and spread panic”.
Maharashtra’s statements on vaccine shortage were “nothing but an attempt to divert attention from Maharashtra government’s repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic”, Harsh Vardhan said, accusing the state’s leadership of “happily sleeping at the wheels”.
“The inability of the Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension. To spread panic among the people is to compound the folly further,” he added, dismissing talk of vaccine shortage as “baseless”.
The Union Health Minister also ripped into demands by “a section of political leaders” to open up vaccinations to all adults or drastically lower the age bar, pointing out that vaccinations so far had not been optimum.
“Doesn’t it seem evident that these states are trying to divert attention from their poor vaccination efforts by just continuously shifting the goalposts? Politicizing such a public health issue is a damning indictment of certain political leaders who should know better,” said Harsh Vardhan. The lack of effort by Maharashtra “has come to haunt us all”, he said.
Vardhan continued stating, “It is shocking to see how the state Government is putting Maharashtrians in danger by letting people escape institutional quarantine mandate for the sake of their personal Vasuli.”
Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi responded stating, “It kind of saddened me, disturbed me, and also disgusted me at the same time that a letter that was written in good spirit and intent…would hope to get a scientific response… because he is the health minister of the country and not the spokesperson of a political party.”
Chaturvedi further mentioned in her message, “But what he responded with was not just political, but also seeking brownie points by attacking some states.”
Speaking over-vaccination Doctor Mohanti said, “India’s population is 1300 Million, and vaccine production capacity monthly from Serum Institute is 20 million/month. No way could we vaccinate everyone in time. It has to rationalize amongst the vulnerable across the states including healthcare workers.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is allowed to speak when his handler wants to spread misinformation about COVID spread to get the protesters back in their homes instead on the streets and courts.”
The Health Minister also attacked the Chhattisgarh Congress government, saying it had refused to use Covaxin, and, by its actions, “had the dubious distinction of being perhaps the only government in the world to have incited vaccine hesitancy.”