Govt Not Exporting Covid-19 Vaccines to Foreign Nations at Expense of People of India: Harsh Vardhan

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The Centre is not exporting coronavirus vaccines to other countries at the expense of the people of India, said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday, adding that experts at highest level and a government committee are on a job to maintain a sensible balance on vaccine requirement in India.

“Vaccines are not being sent to other countries at the expense of people of India. Experts at highest level and a committee of Government are maintaining sensible balance about it…30,39,394 people were vaccinated yesterday. We have touched a total figure (vaccination) of 3 crore,” ANI quoted Vardhan as saying in Rajya Sabha.

Vardhan’s response comes after the Congress raised objections over the central government’s move to export the Covid-19 vaccines to foreign countries. The party said that the government should not export vaccines without immunising the entire population of India.

Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil had raised concerns over the rising coronavirus cases and said experts have stated that another wave of COVID-19 is starting. “The government is trying to hide facts by giving a maze of vaccination figures. If you look at the government’s claim of total vaccinations till now, it is 2,82,18,457. If you look at the 11 days of March, it is 95,90,594. Of the over 135 crore people in the country, only 1.5 per cent have got vaccines, including those who have got just the first dose,” Gohil said on Sunday.

Only 47.29 lakh have got both doses of vaccines which means only 0.35 vaccination has been done, he said. “By this rate 70 per cent people will get vaccinated in 12.6 years. For 100 per cent vaccination, it will take 18 years. We have vaccines, enough of it is there. Why is the government not giving it?” he posed and accused the government of being busy in elections and not caring for the people.

Meanwhile, India recorded 24,492 new Covid-19 cases, registering more than 20,000 cases for the sixth day in a row, taking the infection tally past 1.14 crore, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday. The total cases in the country rose to 1,14,09,831, while the death toll increased to 1,58,856 with 131 fresh fatalities, the ministry data updated at 8 am showed.

On Saturday, Union Minister Piyush Goyal had said that during the pandemic period, the country with its over 130 crore population has shown the world its resilient strength by quickly recovering after a fight with the dreaded virus.

“India was not dependent on anybody during the pandemic period, rather it extended support to the world in the battle against the virus,” Goyal claimed. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the true spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (regarding the world as one family) has initially supported with supply of medicines to over 150 countries besides Covid-19 vaccine supply to over 75 nations from India,” Goyal noted.

On March 10, the government had informed Lok Sabha that India has provided over 481 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines to various countries. In written reply to a question, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had said external supplies are done factoring in domestic production, requirements of the national vaccination programme and requests for the Made-in-India vaccines.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with healthcare workers getting inoculated and vaccination of the frontline workers started from February 2.

The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 for those who are above 60 years and for people aged 45 and above with specified comorbid conditions.

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield are the two vaccines that are being administered in the country. According to the health ministry, over 2.91 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country.