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Deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among people: Dr Vardhan

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Union Minister lashed out at Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh Government

Delhi, April 7

Targeting the government of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh for allegedly making irresponsible statement regarding the vaccine, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that “In recent days, I have seen with growing dismay a number of irresponsible statements from some State government functionaries in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. As these statements have the potential to mislead the public and spread panic, it has become necessary to put the record straight.”

The minister further said that at a time when the country is witnessing a fresh wave of rising COVID-19 infections, I am alarmed to note the fact that many State governments have failed to take appropriate response measures and apply the lessons that the nation has learned over the past one year of handling this pandemic.

Most concerning of all are the statements being made by a section of political leaders asking to open up vaccination to everyone above the age of 18, or to drastically lower the minimum age criteria for vaccination eligibility, said Dr Vardhan, elaborating that the Government of India has been frequently and transparently updating all the State governments about the demand-supply dynamics and the resultant vaccination strategy that has been adopted.
The minister further pointed that in fact, the vaccination strategy has been drawn up after extensive deliberations and consultations in partnership with all State governments. The same has also been a matter of public record for several months now.
“In particular, I have seen statements made by public representatives in Maharashtra about shortage of vaccines. This is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from Maharashtra government’s repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic. The inability of Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension,” said Union Minister, adding that to spread panic among the people is to compound the folly further.
He further said that 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.
“I have been a witness to the misgovernance and utter casual approach of Maharashtra Government in battling the virus. The lackadaisical attitude of the state government has singularly bogged down the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus. The government at center has regularly counselled the Maharashtra state government, made them available all resources and 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,” stated Dr Vardhan.
He further added that today, 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! Their testing is not up to the mark and their contact tracing leaves a lot to be desired. The performance of Maharashtra government in terms of vaccinating healthcare workers and frontline workers is also not great. 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.
“Similarly, we have seen regular comments by leaders from Chhattisgarh 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,” stated Dr Vardhan.
Chhattisgarh has seen disproportionately higher number of deaths in the last 2-3 weeks. Their testing remains heavily dependent on rapid antigen tests which is not a wise strategy, said the minister.
He further lashed out at Chhattisgarh Government and said that the state government in fact refused to use Covaxin despite it being given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Drug Controller of India. Not only this, by its actions, the leaders of the state government have the dubious distinction of being perhaps the only government in the world to have incited vaccine hesitancy.
I am constrained to speak out now because my silence should not be misconstrued for weakness, stated the minister and further said that playing politics is easy, but improving governance and health infrastructure is the real test.

Maharashtra has vaccinated just only 86% of health workers with first dose. The equivalent numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 72% and 64%. On the other hand, 10 Indian states/UTs have done more than 90%. Maharashtra has vaccinated just 41% of healthcare workers with second dose. Equivalent numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 41% and 27%. There are 12 Indian states/UTs that have done more than 60%. Among frontline workers, Maharashtra has vaccinated only 73% with first dose. Equivalent numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 71% and 65%. There are 5 Indian states/UTs that have already done more than 85%. Vaccination of frontline workers with second does for Maharashtra is at 41% For Delhi and Punjab, these numbers are 22% and 20%. There are 6 Indian states/UTs that have done more than 45%.
When it comes to senior citizens, Maharashtra has vaccinated just 25%, Delhi has vaccinated 30% & Punjab has vaccinated only 13%. There are 4 states/UTs that have already vaccinated more than 50%.
Doesn’t it seem evident that these states are trying to divert attention from their poor vaccination efforts by just continuously shifting the goal-posts? Politicizing such a public health issue is a damning indictment of certain political leaders who should know better.

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