“Should be no politics over Covid vaccine”
The fight against coronavirus is not over yet. The people are still fighting for vaccines, struggling to survive and finding it difficult to get a stable income. Currently, the only necessity is the availability of vaccines and there should be no compromise in providing them to all those in need. But is there a necessity for politics to be involved over the Covid vaccine?
Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Health Minister on Friday appealed to the opposition parties not to induce politics on the issue of COVID-19 vaccines and asserted that everyone should work together to ensure people are vaccinated against coronavirus.
Responding to questions during Question Hour in Lok Sabha or the lower house, the minister said the government is still in talks with US company Pfizer with respect to making its vaccine available in India.
“There should be no politics on the issue of COVID and vaccination. The prime minister has said this several times,” Mr Mandaviya answered a question asked by Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale.
“I will also not want to indulge in politics on this issue but I want to present the facts,” said Mr Mandaviya, adding that the prime minister till date has held over 20 meetings and discussions regarding vaccines with the state governments and chief ministers.
Many opposition-ruled states questioned that since health is a state subject and it should be taken into consideration.
“Many said Health is a state subject, states said we also need permission to buy vaccines. We said that we have no problem with this. The states said that we want to go out for tender to buy the vaccine. Modi ji said that we are ready to do whatever help is needed”, said the Health minister.
He said accordingly, the states were allowed to buy 25 per cent and 25 per cent from the private sector. The Centre was to procure 50 per cent for the people.
Many issued global tenders. But there were only two Indian companies that had started vaccine manufacturing, the Serum Institute of India which supplied Covishield and Bharat Biotech which supplied Covaxin, Mr Mandaviya said.
He added that Moderna has registered in India and taken permission. Johnson and Johnson have tied up with Biological E and work on technology transfer has begun.
“With Pfizer, the Indian government was holding talks with it. But the company said it will not deal with the states and the Indian government is holding talks with us. Even today, an experts group is holding talks with the company,” Mr Mandaviya said.
In a meeting held with the states, the chief ministers complained that they were not getting an adequate supply of vaccines and the Centre should procure 25 per cent, which the states were to earlier acquire, of the vaccines. So a new policy came into being from June 21 under which the Centre decided to vaccinate all the citizens, said the Health minister.
“The issue is about politics. There should be no politics on this issue. Our goal is to vaccinate 100 per cent of people above the age of 18 years. We all need to work on it together. It is not the time to indulge in politics,” said Mandaviya, who assumed charge of the Health Ministry earlier this month following a Cabinet reshuffle.
He said those spreading confusion should be stopped from doing so and the public should be given access to free vaccination campaigns.