The Delhi government on Monday asked the Centre to “rise above petty politics” and import Covid-19 vaccines, on a day when Covaxin stocks ran out in the capital and there is no clarity yet on the availability of foreign vaccines.
The Punjab and Delhi governments have said that the US drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer refused to deal with them, while the Centre is yet to give permission to these companies for use of their vaccines in India.
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said on Monday: “If we demand adequate vaccines from the central government, they provide only 4 lakh doses and ask us to float tenders. When we do reach out to global vaccine companies, the central government again comes in the middle as an intermediary. There is no solution here. The central government has asked states to deal with global vaccine companies on an individual level whereas when we reach out to these companies, they claim to be in touch with the Centre only.”
He added: “The central government needs to understand the gravity of the situation and immediately procure vaccines from global vaccine companies. It’s time to rise above petty politics and think about the safety of our citizens.”
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said at the current pace of vaccination it would take 30 months to cover the capital’s citizens. “… why can’t this be the case that the central government calls, invites and talks to these companies (Moderna and Pfizer). I think within three-four days deals and agreements can be made with all the companies.”
He added: “A national newspaper reported that 16 such companies can make Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Out of them, Bharat Biotech has struck a deal with only two of these companies. So, the central government should call, invite and talk to all these 16 companies. It should then formally order and not request that these 16 companies start their production within the next few days. If the 16 companies start their production, then 25 crore vaccine doses can be manufactured every month. Then why are we not making these? What we have witnessed in the cases of the UK and US, there are less than 18,000 cases in the US, that experience shows that the vaccine is the only thing that is the solution for this (pandemic). The Covaxin (stock in Delhi) is over but Covishield is left for a few days.”
Former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram also slammed the Centre’s policy asking states and municipal bodies to float global tenders for vaccines that is yet to attract any takers.