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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Arvind Kejriwal: Asking states to get vaccines like asking us to get weapons for war

In Delhi's case, he said, talks are underway to get the Sputnik V vaccine but there has been no commitment yet on how many doses will be made available.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
May 27, 2021 1:04:49 am
CM Arvind Kejriwal during the inauguration of Delhi’s first drive-through Covid vaccination centre at Vegas Mall in Dwarka, Wednesday. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

POINTING OUT that no state has been successful so far in procuring vaccines directly through global tenders, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday lashed out at the Centre’s 50:50 vaccination policy, saying that directing states to make their own arrangements was like asking them to procure bombs and tanks if Pakistan declared war on India.

In Delhi’s case, he said, talks are underway to get the Sputnik V vaccine but there has been no commitment yet on how many doses will be made available.

“The Centre will have to show a sense of urgency and carry out the vaccination programme on a war footing. The situation we are in at present, where states are being asked to make their own arrangements, is like Pakistan declaring war on us tomorrow and the Centre asking if Delhi has made a nuclear bomb, if UP has bought tanks? This is not how it should happen. It is the Centre’s responsibility to procure vaccines,” Kejriwal said.

“If the Centre gives enough vaccine doses to us and we fail to open vaccination centres, it will be our fault. But if the Centre fails to procure vaccines, and tells us to procure vaccines, how will it work? We are in a war-like situation today. We are fighting a war against corona. States have their responsibility and the Centre has its own. The Centre can’t shrug off its responsibilities and tell states to make their own arrangements. This is wrong,” he said.

Kejriwal’s remarks echo those made by other chief ministers on this issue, including West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan — and even by the Allahabad High Court, which sought centralised vaccination procurement.

“Vaccines by companies such as Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson can be given clearance within 24 hours, why is it not being done? The Centre is asking states to procure directly. Not a single state government has been successful in getting any of these vaccines. This was the job of the Centre…State governments have made efforts. They have floated global tenders. They are speaking to all companies, but the companies have refused to speak to us and say they will deal with the Centre,” he said.

According to Kejriwal, the country has made mistakes in procurement and production and is six months behind the rest of the world in vaccination.

“We didn’t plan and ramp up production on time. In the US, UK and Israel, a large number of people have been vaccinated and they are benefitting from this. But let’s forget that now. We have to plan for the future but the sense of urgency is missing,” he said.

Calling for children to be vaccinated, Kejriwal said: “Moderna and Pfizer have said that their trials are complete and their vaccines are suitable for children. The Centre should not delay any further and grant permission to use these international vaccines.”

The CM was speaking at the inauguration of a drive-in vaccination facility at Dwarka, which will be run by Akash Healthcare. He said Delhi will soon get a government drive-in facility at Chhatrasal Stadium.

Kejriwal said linking the unlockdown process to the vaccination drive would not be possible since there is a vaccine shortage.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, meanwhile, hit out at Kejriwal saying he had earlier advocated decentralisation of the vaccination programme but has now taken a “U-turn” and is indulging in “lies, misinformation and credit-taking”.

The Centre had written to the Delhi government last week saying that only close to 8 lakh vaccines would be available to the state in June. This included the vaccines to be given to the state for free by the Centre as well as those that were purchased by the state directly from the manufacturers.

“These letters make it amply clear that despite placing orders directly, it is the Centre that is handling the distribution of doses in both categories,” a senior government official said.

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