New Delhi: Amid the unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases, Congress Leader Shaktisinh Gohil urged the Centre to vaccinate 60 percent of the population, through a "universal vaccination" programme, to stop a "third wave" of Covid-19 from occurring.
"It is a matter of great sadness that India has fallen behind the 77th position among the countries of the world, in the list of administering a single dose of corona vaccine in every hundred people,'' he said.
Comparing the vaccination drives conducted by other countries with India, the Congress leader said that many countries including the UK, the US have executed successful and rapid vaccination drives leading to more than 80 percent of the population being vaccinated.
Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not adopting the "India First" approach in vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19 , the Congress leader criticized the Centre for exporting six crore vaccine doses to other countries when Indians were not getting them.
"It is unfortunate that India is still lagging behind as only 10.08 of the country's population has been administered with the single dose and 2.8 percent of the people got both doses. All these figures have been collected by Oxford University based on government data at ourworldindata.org.
These data, based on government data, are also available on the Internet," he said while expressing disappointment over the government's policy. The Government of India completely ignored the suggestions made by the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare of the Parliament of the country on October 16, 2020.
"In order to tackle the pandemic, scientists testified that we have to vaccinate more than 60 percent of the entire population. Therefore, there is always a need for universal vaccination in our country, that is, free vaccination for all,"he said.
"The Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, in her previous letter to the Prime Minister, has reiterated the need to procure vaccines centrally from global and domestic sources and begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country," he added.
Slamming the Central Government for acting too late, he said, "But the Prime Minister asked the states to arrange the vaccine themselves.And that too when the situation got completely out of control and the epidemic has spread around in a gigantic manner.."
He further cautioned, "India is a vast country. In 70 years, we have built a reputation. The government can use that credibility to put pressure on vaccine companies and break the chain of Covid 19 Infection by vaccinating more than 60 percent of people before the `Third Wave` arrives".
Our country has the potential to make vaccines and our country has a history that we successfully fighting pandemics like smallpox and polio, which was appreciated by the whole world.
Gohil further added that fortunately, the Corona vaccine is being made in our country itself, but instead of giving it to our citizens first, crores of doses were exported to foreign countries and now the citizens of our country are stumbling rate by rate for the same vaccine. Even a rich country like America had made a policy regarding the Corona vaccine, `America First`, that is, the priority was to administer the vaccine to the citizens of America.
Many other countries adopted a similar policy. Unfortunately, the Narendra Modi government has failed and squandered the resources including vaccines by exporting to countries, now we are bringing the vaccine, medical supplies from foreign countries.
"In the name of `Vaccine Friendship`, the Government and BJP is indulging in misleading the country saying that it is their compulsion to send the vaccine out. Actually, this is not a compulsion. MEA`s press release (19/01/21) states- Keeping in view the domestic requirements of the phased rollout, India will continue to supply COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner - It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while further abroad."
"The Sultan risked the lives of his people for his false Shan-o-Shaukat and sent out 6.6 crore vaccines. While it could have saved countless lives here," he remarked.
Urging the Modi government to waive off GST on ambulance services and oxygen cylinders used in the treatment of COVID-19- oxygen concentrator, remdesivir injection, etc.; a 28 percent GST is being imposed on ambulances. Doing business at the cost of people's life is not India's tradition."
Cornering the Centre for not considering the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee report on vaccination, the Congress leader said, "The Parliament's Standing Committee of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, had in its October 16, 2020 meeting suggested increasing the production of vaccine and subsidising the vaccine cost for the weaker sections of the country, especially in rural and urban slum areas."
He said the failed policy and wrong decisions of the government only compounded the situation to reach such an "apocalyptic human tragedy".
"Countries with less than half the population from India, such as the UK and USA, ordered 9 million and 100 million vaccines in May and June last year. On the other hand, India, with a population of about 135 crore, ordered 10 million vaccines in January this year, because the Centre does not like to listen to the advice of scientists and Scientific Advisor," he said.
Suggesting certain steps to increase the production of vaccines in India, he said, "At this time the Prime Minister should put pressure on the WTO. And should demand four things unconditionally - A) Pending proposal for waiver of patent; B) Trade Secret; C) Copyright; D) Industrial Process on Manufacture.
Only then, under Sec 92 of the INDIAN PATENT ACT 1970, we will be able to make vaccines from Indian companies in our country and will be able to do universal vaccination.
“Our first priority should be to save people's lives. Because Covid infection from cities has now shifted to the villages. And if the emperor did not divert his attention from the palace which is under construction(Central Vista project) in time to the homes of the common man and the hut of the poor, then there will be endless havoc. Words will be less for sensations. The dream of a golden India will be buried with the helplessness of the helpless countrymen Gohil added.