Aaditya Thackeray Does a U-turn Hours After Announcing Free Vaccines in Maharashtra

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Minutes after tweeting about “free Covid-19 vaccination in Maharashtra”, state cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray on Sunday deleted the tweet and apologised for creating “confusion”. In new post, Thackeray said that he did not want to create any confusion regarding the “official vaccination policy of Maharashtra that would be fully ensuring fast, efficient vaccination and would leave nobody behind.”

In the initial post which is now deleted, he had said, “The Govt of Maharashtra has decided to vaccinate its citizens free of cost. This is not something that we think of as a choice, but a duty that we consider of utmost importance: protecting the citizens from Covid.”

“We are also ensuring that the procurement happens at the earliest so that we have ample vaccines to keep the momentum of efficient, smooth and fast vaccination of all citizens of Maharashtra. A safer Maharashtra is our way to ensure a safer India! Likewise for other States,” Thackeray, who is Maharashtra tourism and environment minister, had said in another deleted tweet.

Now, in a follow-up tweet, he said, “I have deleted the earlier tweet as to not cause confusion regarding the official vaccination policy of Maharashtra that would be fully ensuring fast, efficient vaccination and would leave nobody behind.”

“The official policy of vaccination will be declared by the empowered committee and we must await it's recommendation for a fair policy for all sections of society. My apologies for the confusion if it all it may have caused,” the fresh tweet reads.

Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik had stated that the initiative has been discussed with the state Cabinet, and global tenders will be floated soon. "We will vaccinate the entire state population of Maharashtra above 18 years of age for free of cost," Malik said.

So far, Maharashtra has been the worst-hit state in the country by coronavirus and reporting over 60,000 daily infections over the last few days. Earlier this week, the central government announced that everyone above 18 years of age will be inoculated from May 1 as the country sees an exponential rise in Covid-19 infections.

The Maharashtra government will float a global tender for Covid-19 vaccines and Remdesivir injections, State Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had said. As the Union government has allowed vaccination of people in the age group of 18 to 45, the state will start an inoculation drive for this category from May 1, he added.

Pawar, who also handles the finance portfolio, held a review meeting on the Covid-19 situation in Pune. “We have decided to float a global tender for vaccines and Remdesivir (used for the treatment of COVID-19) through a committee headed by chief secretary Sitaram Kunte,” he said. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has discussed vaccine availability with Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the maker of the Covishield vaccine, Pawar said. Poonawalla expressed an inability to meet the state’s full requirement, he claimed.

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