Updated: April 9, 2021 5:13:29 pm
On Wednesday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan singled out non-BJP ruled states, particularly Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, for “politicising” the pandemic, and berated them for not doing enough to control the spread of coronavirus cases.
While the Opposition-ruled states are indeed among the worst affected — Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, Chhattisgarh stand out — data shows that there is hardly any state that can claim to be in a comfortable situation.
The spread of the disease has been politics-agnostic. Karnataka, a BJP-ruled state, has the third-highest caseload in the country. It also reported the third-highest number of deaths, after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Incidentally, the BJP is AIADMK’s ally which rules Tamil Nadu.
Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, again ruled by the BJP, are now among the top five contributors of new cases these days. Goa, a BJP-ruled state, has higher deaths per million population than even Maharashtra. The same is true of Ladakh as well. Himachal Pradesh fares worse than Kerala on this same metric.
There are several indicators on which BJP-ruled states are performing as bad, if not worse, than states ruled by opposition parties.
Harsh Vardhan, for example, pulled up Chhattisgarh for being “heavily dependent” on rapid antigen tests, and suggested that it could have contributed to the disproportionately high number of deaths in the state in the last few weeks.
But Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, two states with highest number of tests, have also been relying mostly on rapid antigen tests. In Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu, two states which have done comparable number of tests, more than 80 per cent of tests have been carried out using the RT-PCR method. In UP and Bihar, this proportion is well below 50 per cent.
Harsh Vardhan also chided Chhattisgarh for refusing to use Covaxin to inoculate its people. But there are at least 14 states that have not used even a single dose of Covaxin in their vaccination effort. Most of these are smaller states, but among them are BJP-ruled states like Goa, which, considering its size and population, has a very high number of cases as well as deaths. Himachal Pradesh has also not deployed Covaxin.
In fact, Covaxin, produced by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, has been very sparsely used throughout the country, most likely because of lack of enough supplies. Covaxin accounts for only nine per cent of the more than nine crore doses of vaccines that have been given in India so far. The remaining 91 per cent of the vaccine doses are those of Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
The state which has utilised Covaxin the most happens to be Delhi. More than 26 per cent of vaccine doses delivered in Delhi are Covaxin. The only state with comparable numbers is Andhra, where Covaxin accounts for 18 per cent of vaccine doses delivered so far.
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