Govt should issue white paper on COVID-vaccination strategy: Cong

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New Delhi, May 20 (PTI) The Congress on Thursday said the government should issue a white paper on its COVID-vaccination strategy, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accelerate the work on inoculating all Indians against the viral disease on a war footing.

Congress leader Rajeev Shukla said this is not the time for image-building but to help the people in need during the pandemic.

He also expressed concern over the spread of the coronavirus in villages and said the prime minister needs to work together with the states to step up medical facilities in rural areas and vaccinate more and more people.

'We demand that the government issue a white paper on its vaccination policy for all to know how many vaccines have been procured and are in the pipeline to vaccinate all Indians,' Shukla told reporters.

'This is not the time to indulge in image-building. Forget about your image, save people's lives instead. Set aside your image management and put together all your energies in helping people come out of COVID. Try and take everyone together,' he said.

'I would urge the Prime Minister to take it on an emergency basis. He should speak to all the Chief Ministers on the vaccination programme and it should be taken up in such a way by which it should be treated as if there is a war like situation. Then only a solution can be found and the chain can be broken,' he said.

The Congress leader, who is in-charge of the party's Himachal Pradesh affairs, said the coronavirus is spreading in villages, which is a cause of worry.

He highlighted a lack of testing facilities, hospitals, doctors and medical infrastructure in rural areas.

Shukla also alleged that BJP-ruled states and the Centre were hiding data pertaining to deaths due to Covid and demanded they reveal the real figures.

'The number of corona-infected patients may have reduced, but the death rate is still high, which is of concern. This is a big challenge for us now,' Shukla said.

He said according to experts, around 90 lakh people have to be vaccinated daily to break the chain of the virus, but the current vaccination rate is very slow.

'If the virus chain does not break, then the third wave is imminent. I would urge the central government and the prime minister to procure vaccines on a war footing and negotiate on behalf of the states,' the Congress leader said, adding that the vaccines should be made available in the open market. PTI SKC TIR TIR

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