Mamata slams Modi government’s COVID vaccine policy, alleges that Centre is trying to evade responsibility

Published : April 20, 2021 21:03 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election rally in Murshidabad district, on April 20. Photo: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Centre’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, calling it “hollow, without substance, and regrettable show of evasion of responsibility”. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, dated April 20, Mamata wrote, “Now when the number of cases in the second wave of COVID is spiralling like anything, the Centre has chosen to tactically indulge in empty rhetoric and shy away from its responsibility for making available vaccines to the people of the country.” On April 19, the Centre announced that everyone above the age of 18 would be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 from May 1. State governments and private organisations would now be allowed to procure the vaccines directly from the manufacturers.

Mamata in her letter stated that the Centre’s announcement “does not address major issues like ensuring the quality, efficacy, stable flow of supply of required number of vaccines by the manufacturers and also the price at which vaccines are to be purchased by the States”. She said the announced policy may unleash “unscrupulous mechanisms in the market”, particularly regarding the pricing of vaccines, which “may put the common people under huge financial burden”. Mamata also expressed concern over the possibility of supply becoming “very erratic” as the vaccine manufacturers “are hardly prepared to scale up their production capacities to the desired levels to meet the nationwide demand”.

Referring to the scarcity of vaccines in the market at present, Mamata requested the Centre to make them available in the market at the earliest. “In sum, I would earnestly request you to kindly ensure a fair, transparent and credible vaccination policy addressing all the issues outlined above, which would enable the people of the country to get vaccines urgently at affordable prices as per current scale as applicable,” wrote the Chief Minister.

The same day Mamata also posted on social media that the State government has been “persistent” in its efforts to increase vaccination in the State. “Yesterday, number of doses administered in Kolkata rose to over 39,000 from a daily average of 25,000 vaccinations. GoWB is further ramping up its capacities to ensure vaccination for all eligible citizens,” Mamata posted.

Meanwhile, the COVID situation in West Bengal has been turning grimmer by the day. On April 20, 9,819 new cases were registered, and the total number of active cases stood at 63,354. Forty-six people lost their lives, taking the death toll total to 10,698. Kolkata saw the maximum spike in new cases at 2,234, followed by North 24 Parganas at 1,902. Not a single district in the State was free of COVID cases.