New Delhi: Asserting the allegations regarding shortage of Covid-19 vaccines are utterly baseless, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday alleged there are “deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people”.
Coming down heavily on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government, Vardhan said the statements made by public representatives in Maharashtra about shortage of vaccines is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic.
“The inability of Maharashtra Government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension. To spread panic among the people is to compound the folly further. Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis and state governments are being apprised regularly about it. Allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless,” he added.
Asserting that he has been a witness throughout the last year to the misgovernance and utter casual approach of the Maharashtra Government in battling the virus, he said the “lackadaisical attitude of the state government has singularly bogged down the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus”.
The Health Minister said the Centre has regularly counselled the Maharashtra government and made them available all resources as well as sent central teams for help.
“However, the lack of efforts of the part of the state government is now clearly visible and come to haunt us all,” he added.
Stating Maharashtra not only has the highest cases and deaths in the country but also has one of the highest test positivity rates in the world, Vardhan said “their testing is not up to the mark and their contact tracing leaves a lot to be desired”.
Vardhan said Maharashtra’s performance is also not great in terms of vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers.
“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’. Overall, as the state has lurched from one crisis to another, it seems as if the state leadership is happily sleeping at the wheels,” he added.
The Health Minister further said the Maharashtra Government needs to do a lot more to control the pandemic and the Centre will help them in all possible ways. “But focusing all their energies on playing politics and spreading lies to create panic is not going to help the people of Maharashtra,” he added.
The Union Minister also took the Chhattisgarh Government to task over the “regular comments” made by the state leaders that are intended to spread misinformation and panic on vaccination.
“I would like to humbly state that it would be better if the state government focuses its energies on ramping up their health infrastructure rather than on petty politicking,” he added.
Highlighting that Chhattisgarh has seen disproportionately higher number of deaths in the last two to three weeks, Vardhan said “their testing remains heavily dependent on rapid antigen tests which is not a wise strategy”.
Vardhan further said the state government in fact refused to use Covaxin despite it being given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Drug Controller of India.
“The leaders of the state government have the dubious distinction of being perhaps the only government in the word to have incited vaccine hesitancy,” he added.
Vardhan further said many other states also need to bring their healthcare systems up to the mark.
“For example, quality of testing needs to improve in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In Punjab, high Case Fatality Rate needs to be improved by early identification of those needing hospitalization. Mask-wearing and social distancing compliance are slack in a large number of states. There is a lot that needs to be done and we must do it all with speed and at scale,” he added.