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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Is Kejriwal constantly changing his stance on vaccination to push for Pfizer vaccines?

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal who is known for mismanaging the pandemic situation in the nation’s capital has adopted a new strategy to pass on the buck to the Central Government and wash his hands off his responsibility to vaccinate the citizens of Delhi.

Kejriwal who earlier wanted the vaccine purchase process to be decentralized so that states can negotiate and carry out the vaccination program as per their needs and ability has now taken a complete u-turn and said that the Centre should be procuring vaccines and distributing them to the states.

Kejriwal had earlier said, “the capability of each state is different. Hence the Centre should allow the states to directly negotiate with vaccine manufacturers and empower states to place orders and make their own purchases”. He has now done a total flip-flop and said that the image of the country is taking a hit as states are fighting against each other in front of foreign vaccine manufacturers. Kejriwal added that the Centre should take the responsibility of procuring vaccines instead of leaving them on the states.

Kejriwal is one of the CM who has been lobbying for Pfizer despite the fact that the international vaccine manufacturer says it won’t take responsibility for any adverse effects the vaccine may have and has even demanded it be protected from being taken to court in case such adverse effects are caused by its vaccine.

Several non-NDA states such as Delhi, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Kerala among others have been raising false alarms regarding a shortage of vaccines merely to push for American vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna. An analysis of the propaganda by OpIndia points out:

Some of them have tried to create panic among the public by claiming that their vaccine stock is running out soon. While they claim there is a shortage of vaccines, they are also making a contradictory demand, that the age limit for eligibility for vaccines should be lowered, so that more people can be vaccinated.

However, these allegations received a strong rebuttal from union health minister Harsh Vardhan, who denied the claims of vaccine shortage, and showed that these states have not vaccinated their eligible population completely yet, but still asking to make more people eligible. The minister made scathing remarks for Maharashtra in particular, saying that the state government has been incompetent in managing the pandemic.

The health minister said that the latest claims by these state governments are attempts to divert attention from their poor vaccination efforts by just continuously shifting the goalposts.

While non-NDA ruled states are trying to spread misinformation on vaccine availability, the ecosystem sympathetic to them is busy spreading another misinformation campaign on social media. For the last few weeks, left-liberal journalists and activists have been demanding that India should ‘allow’ people to get vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, etc. They are alleging that the Bharatiya government is not allowing those companies to sell their vaccines in Bharat, and demanding that they should be allowed, even if they are priced high, as those who are willing to pay should be allowed to buy them.

Lobbyists including several Opposition CMs and party members have been demanding that foreign vaccines be permitted in Bharat without trial claiming vaccine shortages but they’ve overlooked some important points. As per a report by Hindustan Times:

 The order book of both Pfizer and Moderna is full so it depends on their surplus that how much they can provide in India. At best, Pfizer says it can provide 5 crore vaccines in 2021 to India –  one crore vaccine doses in July, one in August, two crores in September, and another one crore in October.

It must be mentioned that Pfizer continues to be adamant on its demand of being given full indemnity in addition to being granted relaxations in the ‘requirement of post-approval bridging trials and dispensing the requirement of testing their vaccines in Central Drugs Laboratory, unlike Russia’s Sputnik vaccine procured via Dr. Reddy’s which has already completed these steps.

It is also important to note that the 5 crores vaccines from Pfizer would hardly have any impact on Bharat’s vaccination program since the Bharatiya government has already working to ramp up vaccine production despite the USA’s embargo on supply of vaccine raw materials.

A report by the Times of India says:

The Union government has informed the Supreme Court that vaccine production in India will be ramped up to more than 13 crore doses per month by the end of July.

“Production capacity of vaccines under the vaccination drive has been gradually ramped up and is expected to increase further in the next couple of months. Serum Institute of India has ramped up production from 5 crore doses per month to 6.5 crore doses per month and further ramp-up is expected by July. Bharat Biotech has increased production from 90 lakh/month to 2 crore doses/month and further increase is expected up to 5.5 crore doses/month by July. Sputnik V (distributed by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories) is expected to increase production from 30 lakh to 1.2 crore doses/month by July,” the government said.

“The vaccine manufacturers recommended for support are Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad; Indian Immunologicals, Hyderabad; Haffkine Biopharmaceuticals, Mumbai; Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals, Bulandshahr. An amount of approximately Rs 200 crore has been allocated for supporting augmentation of capacities for manufacturing, whereby, it is expected that the current manufacturing of Covaxin of 10 million doses/month will be enhanced to nearly 100 million doses/month in the next 8-10 months,” it said.

Instead of resorting to politics, Kejriwal should concentrate on ensuring that the citizens of Delhi are provided with necessary healthcare facilities.

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