Wayanad MP and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi opined that the Union Govt should centralise the system of procuring vaccines - something completely contradicted by KPCC chief and senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar in the most direct possible way almost simultaneously.
Rahul Gandhi claimed that the Centre's existing vaccine policy was only compounding the problem even as India battles the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Offering his suggestion to decentralise the distribution of vaccines, Rahul Gandhi said that India could not afford to continue as per the Union govt's current policy with regards to vaccination. Interestingly, it was actually states and even municipal corporations that had first demanded floating global tenders individually, but after not getting too warm a response and realising that their bargaining power was vastly reduced in this structure, appear to have made a u-turn and now want the Centre to procure.
GOI’s vaccine policy is compounding the problem.
Vaccine purchase should be centralised and distribution decentralised.
India cannot afford this.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 14, 2021
Karnataka Congress contradicts Rahul Gandhi, wants to procure vaccines
Even as the state govt attempted to close in on the gap between demand and supply of COVID vaccines, the Karnataka Congress on Friday sought permission to procure doses globally while the party's former president Rahul Gandhi presented a contradicting opinion, suggesting that the Centre centralise the procurement of vaccines while decentralising the distribution process. KPCC chief DK Shivakumar claimed that Congress 'was ready' to vaccinate Karnataka's people as the Centre & the state government had failed to do so and sought immediate permission to procure vaccine doses from global makers. The Congress is not in power in Karnataka and would be taking on this procurement in its capacity as a political party. The Congress legislator claimed that the MLA & MLC development funds would be used to procure the doses, adding that the grand-old-party wanted to show PM Modi and CM Yediyurappa that it was possible to quickly vaccinate the masses.
Congress Party would like permission to directly approach vaccine makers across the world and procure them. We will show that we can do the vaccination drive better and faster than Modi and Yediyurappa together are able to. #LetCongressVaccinate#Congress100CrorePlan
— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) May 14, 2021
Detailing Congress'plan to procure vaccines globally, DK Shivakumar explained that his party had a Rs 100 crore plan to begin with and went on to detail on the break up of the budget, noting that it would comprise Rs 90 cr from the MLA / MLC funds of Congress legislators and Rs 10 cr from party funds. He said that more funds would be raised via public donations and claimed that they would join hands with hospitals & clinics to administer the jabs. DK Shivakumar claimed that the Karnataka Congress should be given permission to procure COVID vaccines in the spirit of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' as the current rules only allowed only state governments, hospitals and industries to procure vaccines in India.
The Karnataka government is only now floating global tenders with regard to local manufacturing. Had these initiatives been taken months ago, so many lives would have been saved!#LetCongressVaccinate#Congress100CrorePlan
— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) May 14, 2021
COVID-19 vaccination drive
From May 1 onwards, the Centre relaxed the age bar for COVID-19 inoculation and allowed the vaccine manufacturers to supply 50 per cent of its doses to state governments and in the open market. While some states managed to commence the vaccination for the 18-44 age category, the governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka have suspended this drive owing to a paucity of doses. Special emphasis has been laid on those aged above 45 who are waiting for the second dose of the vaccine.
Addressing a press briefing on Thursday, the Union government claimed that over 216 crore doses of vaccines will be manufactured in India between August and December. This includes COVISHIELD (75 crore doses), COVAXIN (55 crore doses), Bio E Sub Vaccine (30 crore doses), Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine (5 crore doses), SII-Novavax (20 crore doses), BB Nasal Vaccine (10 crore doses), Genova mRNA vaccine (6 crore doses) and Sputnik V (15.6 crore doses). This is expected to give a huge fillip to the vaccination drive in India.