Centre depriving Bengal of ample COVID vaccine supply: Mamata

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Kolkata, Jun 30 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of depriving her state of an adequate number of COVID vaccines, while providing ample supplies to even smaller states.

She said that despite the short supply of vaccines, at least 2.17 crore doses have been administered to people in the state by the government, and private bodies till Tuesday.

'We are not being given an adequate number of vaccines. While other states have received at least 3 crore doses, we have got one crore less. Had we received one crore more doses, we could have inoculated an additional one crore population. This has become a big area of deprivation,' Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat Nabanna.

'The Centre is providing vaccines to various states but depriving West Bengal. Ours is also a state,' she said, directing Chief Secretary H K Dwidevi to write to the Centre on this issue.

She claimed that while West Bengal has received only 1.99 crore doses, Uttar Pradesh has got around 3.5 crore doses and Maharashtra 3.17 crore doses.

'Even states smaller than West Bengal are getting more vaccines. I do not have any objection to that but why will the Centre not provide vaccines to our state and continue to defame us? We had asked for three crore vaccines long back but have not received them,' she said.

Banerjee, who is also the health minister, claimed that her state is number one in terms of utilisation of vaccines, implementation of the drive and the manner in which people are being inoculated.

'We are vaccinating at least 3-4 lakh people every day. But if we do not have the vaccines under my control, what will we do? I am not allowed to purchase vaccines and you (Centre) are also not providing them to us,' she said.

The TMC chief alleged that the BJP is keener on defaming West Bengal by spreading 'distorted stories'.

'They defame West Bengal by discussing alleged atrocities in the state but don't talk about those happening in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or Gujarat...these are distorted and planted stories of the BJP. They are jealous because West Bengal is doing good. They were defeated and could digest it,' she said.

The TMC trounced the BJP in the recently concluded assembly elections, returning to power in the state for the third consecutive term.

Banerjee said she has not received a single reply to the letters she had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

'I have written so many letters to the prime minister asking him to provide us with three crore vaccines but there was no response, not even to the one related to Covaxin,' she said.

Banerjee had last week written to Modi seeking his intervention for early approval of Covaxin by the World Health Organisation, without which people having taken the Bharat Biotech jab may face problems travelling abroad.

She said that the vaccination drive in the state is getting affected due to the short supply of COVID vaccines.

Only second doses are being administered in Kolkata due to the shortage, Banerjee said.

She said that the short supply has created a gap (days on which people could not be vaccinated) of two days and had earlier created a gap of 10 days.

'We got only 1.99 crore doses and we have already administered 1.90 crore of them,' Banerjee said.

'We have spent Rs 59 crore from the state exchequer to purchase 18 lakh vaccines directly from the manufacturers and inoculated several lakhs of super-spreaders including bus drivers, conductors, vegetable vendors and autorickshaw drivers,' she said.

Due to the alleged short supply of COVID vaccines from the Centre, the state government has decided to use 50 per cent of the upcoming supplies to inoculate people scheduled to get the second dose. PTI SCH ACD ACD

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