Updated: July 10, 2021 11:21:44 pm
The Tripura High Court has termed as inaccurate the state government’s claim that it had covered 98 per cent of the 45-plus age group and 80 per cent of the eligible population with the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and directed it to issue a clarification.
Hearing a suo motu case on the state’s pandemic preparations, a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Subhasish Talapatra Friday directed Tripura National Health Mission director Dr. Siddharth Shib Jaiswal—who put out the numbers around a week ago—to issue a press statement with accurate vaccination figures.
According to the affidavit of the government, there are 26.86 lakh eligible people above 18 years and 12.36 lakh people above 45 years in the state.
“On the date when the Mission Director made these claims, the total vaccines administered were 24,26,803 of which 5,66,458 were of second doze. Total number of people vaccinated was thus 18,60,345. Perhaps, he has taken the total dozes of vaccines administered for arriving at this 80% coverage, forgetting that substantial part of it was administered to the same person as a second doze,” the court order reads.
The court also observed that 14,36,595 doses were administered to the 45-plus age group with 5,66,458 people being given the second doses. This would mean that around 9 lakh people got the first dose—which would not come up to 98 per cent of the eligible 12.36 lakh population.
The bench asked Jaiswal to clarify whether he had made an error or the press had misunderstood him.
“When an officer as responsible as the Mission Direction of National Health Mission, Tripura, is quoted to have provided information which was inaccurate, we expected him to issue correction statement to the press……..we expect him to do so without any further delay”, the court order reads.
A Health Department official, who wished to stay anonymous, said the state’s actual target for the 45-plus category is just under 10 lakh and not 12 lakh. “There seems to be some miscommunication between the court and our office. We are sticking to our figure of 98 percent coverage in the 45-plus category. We will be submitting an affidavit soon.”
The same official, however, admitted that the overall inoculation number that had been put out was indeed inaccurate at that time. “The vaccination figure was somewhere between 70-75 per cent at the time the claim was made… the figure is 80 per cent in the 18-plus category now, but it wasn’t when the reports came out,” this source said.
The court’s observation came in the wake of reports published in two local English newspapers on June 25 that quoted the NHM director as saying that around 80 per cent of the eligible population and 98 per cent of the 45-plus age group were vaccinated with the first dose.
The High Court also asked the state government to procure sufficient doses to provide the second dose within the recommended period.
“..These people, who have already received their first dose, cannot wait indefinitely for receiving the second dose after the mandatory period is over”, the order reads.
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