Lies, damn lies, statistics – and spin-doctoring by the BJP 

State after state – including ones run by the BJP – are reporting vaccine shortages. But the government will have you believe every thing is just fine

Pedalling lies? Mansukh Mandaviya – the new blue-eyed boy | File Photo: PTI

It was earlier said that there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Now we have to add a fourth to this list – the new lie being the spin-doctoring by BJP ministers and netas.

While it is pretty obvious that there is a severe shortage of vaccines as supplied by the Union government, these spin doctors have it that the states have not made proper plans as per the supplies. This is the latest version from the new blue-eyed boy Mansukh Mandaviya, who on Wednesday said the states were making “useless charges”. It was only some time ago that the former health minister Harsh Vardhan was accusing the states of “shamelessly” criticising the Union government on the issue of vaccine shortage.

In fact, Harsh Vardhan should be pronounced as ‘Haarsh Vardhan’.

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The Tamil Nadu Medical Minister, Ma Subramanian, pointed out that the state had barely two lakh doses, and that they would not last even a day. Tamil Nadu requires 11.5 crore doses but has received only 1.67 crore. It needs at least an additional 10 crore doses.

Similar is the story in almost all states. Gujarat, where the BJP is in power, had to suspend vaccinations a few days ago due to lack of vaccines.

Maharashtra has administered 3.7 crore doses thus far but the state government has claimed it has the capacity to administer 15 lakh doses a day. Its Health Minister, Rajesh Tope, said 70 lakh doses had arrived last week but were exhausted in just three days. The assembly had recently passed a resolution demanding 3 crore doses per month from the Centre for the next three months.

In Telangana, the problem is acute as many Government COVID Vaccination Centres (GCVC) have run out of stock of Covaxin doses. The shortage has been severe in the last few days. The state has stopped mobilisation of people for the vaccination drive due to the shortage.

Kerala too is affected by the poor supply of vaccines from the Union government. Its officials have repeatedly pointed out the fact of inadequate doses even as the state ramps up its vaccination drive.

Kerala has assigned priority status to specific groups in the population, like NRIs or students who are preparing to go abroad and college students between 18-23 years of age, but there is not enough vaccines to be distributed to all.

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Health officials say though the supply is regular, the consignments are small for a state which has the capacity to deliver 2.5-3 lakh doses per day. This has seriously reduced the pace of vaccination, despite the huge demand for the same.

Kerala has administered the first dose to 44 per cent of its population above 18 years and the second to 16 per cent.

The state’s vaccine requirement for July is 60 lakh doses, with 25 lakhs doses required for delivering second doses to those who are due for it.

Delhi has shut down over 500 centres due to the vaccine shortage. Its stocks may last for only a few more days, as per a bulletin released by the Delhi government on Tuesday.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram, pointing out that Odisha had reported 24 of 30 districts as having run out of vaccines, tweeted, “Odisha is governed by the BJD, an ally of the BJP. What has the central government that dismissed complaints of vaccine shortage got to say now? Vaccine shortage is a FACT. Vaccine production is EXAGGERATED. Vaccine import is a MYSTERY. Vaccinating the entire adult population by December 2021 is an empty BOAST.”

Sharp criticism indeed, but he is not far off the mark. The scapegoating of Harsh Vardhan in the recent Cabinet reshuffle only proves the point.