"If Pak Attacks India...": Arvind Kejriwal Analogy On Procuring Vaccines

Arvind Kejriwal called on the centre to play its part in the vaccination drive and urgently procure enough doses to inoculate people in the national capital and across the country.

Delhi on Wednesday afternoon reported 1,491 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours

New Delhi:

States cannot afford to compete among themselves to buy coronavirus vaccines - any more than being forced to buy individual stores of weapons and ammunition in case of an attack by Pakistan - Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told NDTV on Wednesday.

Mr Kejriwal called on the centre to play its part in the vaccination drive and urgently procure enough doses to inoculate people in the national capital and across the country, rather than leaving it to states to try and negotiate separate deals with manufacturers.

"The centre is saying that states should buy vaccines on their own. The states have spoken to everyone. Not a single state has been successful in getting an extra dose (of vaccine). This was the job of the centre," the Chief Minister said.

"States are doing everything they can. We tried global tenders, we spoke to companies and they are refusing to speak to us... It's like imagine, if Pakistan attempts war on India, will the centre leave states to defend themselves? Will they ask, did Delhi make nuclear bombs, did Uttar Pradesh buy tanks?" Mr Kejriwal told NDTV.

The Chief Minister doubled down on his comments at a media briefing later in the evening. "Unlike many other countries, India delayed vaccination by six months. The first vaccine was made by Indians in India. We should have been manufacturing and stocking up since then... if we'd done that, we may have prevented some of the deaths in the second wave," he said at the virtual media briefing.

India has been hit hard by the second wave of infections, with more than 3,000 deaths per day since April 28 and over 2,000 a day since April 21.

By contrast, the most deaths in a day in the first wave was less than 1,200.

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2.09 lakh new COVID-19 cases were reported in India in the past 24 hours (File)

The second wave has coincided with a worrying dip in vaccinations, as the centre and states go back and forth over the demand and supply of doses.

States insist they do not have enough doses to vaccinate both age groups - 18-44 and over-45. The centre insists that they do. This has slowed vaccinations, particularly for the former age group, which government data says accounts for nearly half of all new Covid cases this month.

Under the centre's new "liberalised" vaccination policy states are now required to independently source 50 per cent of their vaccines. However, documents accessed by NDTV seem to indicate the centre has fixed specific quotas for how many doses the Delhi government can purchase from manufacturers.

Delhi reached out to Pfizer and Moderna but it was refused. The US pharma giants said they would deal only with the centre. It received a more favourable response from Sputnik V manufacturers.

Two weeks ago Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Covaxin manufacturers Bharat Biotech had also refused to supply doses, citing the centre's directives and limited availability.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his government ]had been refused by Moderna.

Delhi today reported 1,491 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours. The positivity rate has now dropped below two per cent for the first time in nearly nine weeks.