Amid the ongoing tussle between the Centre and the Maharashtra government over shortage of Covid-19 vaccine, state health minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday accused the Union government of providing less vaccine dosages to the state. Tope alleged discrimination being done with the state that has reported the most number of coronavirus cases in the country. He said that while Maharashtra which has over 50,000 active cases was given only 7.5 lakh vaccine doses, other states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat had received far more doses.
“According to the latest release order of vaccines from Centre, Maharashtra has been given 7.5 lakh vaccine dosages only. While Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, etc have been given far more vaccines than Maharashtra. I talked to Dr Harsh Vardhan immediately after this, even Sharad Pawar talked to him. I raised issue of discrimination with us. We have most number active patients, positivity rate and death with 12 crore population. Why we are given so few vaccines?” he asked.
Tope further said that the state government was being accused of laxity which was totally unfair. While Maharashtra has been conducting 70 per cent RT-PCR tests and 30 per cent Antigen tests, it was the opposite in UP, he said, adding that the number of testing labs in the state had also been increased.
Attacking the government over providing vaccines to other states than Maharashtra, Tope said that at least 40 lakh vaccine doses were required in the financial capital every week. “The Centre is helping us but it is not helping us in the way it should. Gujarat is half of the population of Maharashtra, however, it has got 1 crore vaccines till now, and we have got only 1.04 lakhs vaccine dosages,” he alleged.
“I have just been informed that the Centre has increased Covid-19 vaccine doses from 7 lakh to 17 lakh, but even this is less because we need 40 lakh vaccine doses a week and 17 lakh doses are not enough,” he further said.
The state health minister also blamed the Centre over 26 vaccination centres being shut in Mumbai as they were waiting for more vaccine doses from the government. “They are sending people back because of lack of doses,” he had informed Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, he said. Covid-19 vaccination was halted in parts of the state on Wednesday evening. “Stocks of vaccine in the state remain only for three days,” NDTV quoted Tope as saying.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, however, said the Centre had assured to help Maharashtra where the COVID-19 situation is currently “grim”. Pawar said he spoke to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday and the latter assured to support Maharashtra and other states to tackle the situation. Pawar said health workers in Maharashtra were doing their best to control the spread of the viral infection, adding that the state government had taken steps like imposing strict curbs to break the chain of the virus, on the advice of experts.
Reacting to Pawar, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said that he did not know what was the political meaning of the NCP supremo’s statement but it indicated that the Centre had given all possible support to the system. The Union government had given over 1 crore vaccine dosages but why were several dosages were wasted, questioned Patil.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had on Wednesday lashed out at Maharashtra and some other states, accusing them of trying to cover their “failures” in containing the pandemic by making “deplorable” attempts through “irresponsible” statements to distract attention and spreading panic among people.