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Amid the ongoing row between the Centre and some states over an alleged shortage of vaccines, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioning the export of COVID-19 vaccines at a time when the nation is facing a shortage. Rahul Gandhi questioned the large-scale COVID-19 vaccine exports asking why over 6 crore doses were exported when there is a shortage in India.
“There is no clear reason as to why the government permitted large scale exports of vaccines. While our nation is facing vaccine starvation, more than 6 crore doses of vaccines have been exported. The state governments are repeatedly highlighting vaccine shortages only to receive intemperate statements by the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare targetting Opposition-ruled states, undercutting cooperative federalism which you too have stressed as essential,” said Rahul in his letter.
Taking a jibe at Finance Ministry’s move to withdraw the decision of interest rate cut on small savings which Nirmala Sitharaman termed an ‘oversight’, Rahul Gandhi said, “Was the export of vaccines also an ‘oversight’ like many other decisions of this government, or an effort to garner publicity at the cost of our own citizens”
He alleged that the efforts of scientists and vaccine suppliers have been undermined by the Centre’s poor implementation of COVID-19 vaccination. Rahul Gandhi also urged the Centre to give state governments a greater say in COVID-19 vaccine procurement and distribution. He asked the Centre to take 7 steps for facilitating smooth vaccination:
1. Provide vaccine suppliers with necessary resources to increase manufacturing capacity
2. Place an immediate moratorium on vaccine export
3. Fast track approval of other vaccines as per norms and guidelines
4. Open up vaccination to everyone who needs it
5. Double central allocation for vaccine procurement from the existing Rs 35,000 crore
6. Give state governments a greater say in vaccine procurement and distribution
7. Provide direct income support to the vulnerable sections in the disastrous second wave
Some states have been demanding more vaccines and the Congress is seeking the vaccine for all. The Centre, however, has accused some states of doing politics on the issue of vaccines.