On Centre’s Covid Vaccine Strategy, Rahul Gandhi’s Demonetisation Jab

Rahul Gandhi has also alleged that the vaccine policy is discriminatory (File)

New Delhi:

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is in home isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, took a swipe at the Centre’s vaccination strategy today by comparing it to the demonetisation exercise announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi five years ago.

“Central government’s vaccine strategy is nothing short of demonetisation. People will again be seen queuing up. Will suffer loss of money, health and life. And in the end only a few industrialists will benefit,” the 50-year-old Congress MP tweeted this morning in Hindi.

During demonetisation, when high-value currency notes were suddenly banned in 2016, hassled people scrambled to withdraw new bank notes and exchange the now banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Long serpentine queues were seen outside ATMs and banks.

Cut to present, amid a more virulent second wave of coronavirus, the Centre has announced the widening of the Covid vaccination drive from May 1 and it is open for anyone over the age of 18.

All adults can get Covid shots and states can buy doses directly from vaccine-makers in the “liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination”, said the government over the weekend.

On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi had alleged that the vaccine policy is discriminatory and that there is no guarantee for the weaker sections.

“No free vaccines for 18-45 yr olds. Middlemen brought in without price controls. No vaccine guarantee for weaker sections. GOI’s Vaccine Discrimination – Not Distribution Strategy,” he had tweeted a day before.

India began inoculating people in January using two Covid vaccines – Serum Institute of India’s Covishield developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech’s made-in-India Covaxin. So far, the government had allowed vaccinations only for health workers, frontline workers and those above 45 in a centrally-controlled process.

Pricing, procurement, eligibility and administering of vaccines will be flexible in the latest round of the world’s largest vaccination drive.

Vaccine manufacturers have been incentivised to scale up their production and release up to 50 per cent of their supply to states and in the open market at a declared price.

States can now get additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers.

The country is in a serious grip of a deadly second wave of coronavirus and seeing record surge in infections on a daily basis. Today is the seventh straight day of the country seeing over two lakh new cases. India’s tally of more than 1.56 crore Covid cases is the second-highest globally, behind the United States and ahead of Brazil’s. 1,82,553 deaths have been recorded so far in the country.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday night, PM Modi urged the states to only resort to lockdowns as an absolute last resort and underscored the need for COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

Likening the more deadly second wave of the pandemic in India with a storm, the PM said, “We were just recovering from the first wave. But then the second wave came at us like a toofan.”

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