Delhi Vs Centre Vaccine War Intensifies as AAP’s Atishi Slams ‘Policy Disaster’

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Delhi claims it has not received a single dose of vaccine as part of the vaccination campaign that was launched by the central government on June 21 even as the BJP pointed out that the Capital still has 11 lakh doses. News18’s Rupashree Nanda catches up with senior AAP leader and Kalkaji MLA Atishi on the fresh controversy.

When you already have 11 lakh doses of vaccines as per your own bulletin, is the tweet misleading for you to say that you have not received a single dose of vaccine?

We have been receiving approximately 13 to 15 lakh doses of vaccines as part of central government and state supply for the last three months. The problem however is that this speed of vaccine supply is just not enough. If we were to vaccinate 15 lakh people every month, then it’s going to take 13 months to vaccinate the entire population of Delhi and given the devastation we have seen in the second wave, we cannot wait for 13 months.

So what were we thinking? We were thinking that now the central government is starting this large nationwide universal vaccine campaign, it is going to mean that Delhi is going to be provided more vaccines. However, not a single dose of vaccine has been provided to us as part of this campaign, June 21 has come and gone and for us the vaccination campaign is exactly as it were before.

Number 2, we have been told that in the coming month of July, we will get 15 lakh doses of vaccines, which is approximately the same that we got the last month and the month before that. In fact, it is much lesser than the vaccines we got in April. In April, we got 23 lakh doses of the vaccine. So, if a universal, high-speed campaign has to be carried out in the country, then vaccination supply has to increase.

The question is when you already have 11 lakh doses of vaccines, is it accurate for you to say that under the particular vaccination drive that was launched on June 21, Delhi did not receive a single dose. Is that your specific allegation?

Absolutely. You have ad campaigns running throughout the country, you have pages and pages of ads given by every BJP state government; Delhi government is being told to give ads. We are told to give ads but we are not given any vaccines. What has changed between 20th and 21st of June? As far as Delhi is concerned, nothing has changed. We have not got a single dose of the vaccine. Even for the coming month, we have not been promised any increase in supply of vaccines. We are getting as many vaccines as we were getting earlier. That vaccine supply is woefully short. And given that it will take 13 months to vaccinate all of Delhi at this speed, this vaccination campaign is effectively a farce. Because unless we can vaccinate the entire city and do it at a higher speed, we do not get the kind of herd immunity that we need to protect ourselves from the third wave.

Don’t you think that states which have far lesser stock of vaccines actually should have been the priority of the central government?

I think the central government has to prioritise all states. The central government has to increase manufacturing capacity. For days we have been asking why other vaccines which are being used across the world are not being approved in India. Pfizer is being approved in more than 60 countries. Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are approved in more than 40 countries. They are all WHO approved. But India cannot approve them? Why are we not approving them? Why are we not importing them? Why are we not getting pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturers in India to tie up with these vaccines and get them manufactured in India?

So if we are to launch a vaccination campaign, then we have to increase manufacturing capacity. All we are seeing in manufacturing of vaccines is policy flip-flops and these policy flip-flops have only one thing in common; they are all failures. So, in the first phase, the central government says that we are going to decentralise vaccine procurement, but when they do that, they tie the hands of the manufacturers and decide who they can sell to?

First, they said we will decentralise and now they say centralised. Even when they centralise, they are not giving any vaccines. So these policy flip-flops have one thing in common. They are a total policy disaster. There is clear lack of planning and mismanagement as far as vaccine procurement and vaccination for the entire population goes.

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