BJP MP Gautam Gambhir's announcement of free distribution of antiviral drug 'Fabiflu' in his parliamentary constituency East Delhi amid an acute shortage of Covid medicines has drawn sharp criticism from the Congress and the ruling AAP. Leaders of the two parties have accused the cricketer-turned-politician of "hoarding", questioning his decision to not hand over the doses to hospitals desperate for supplies.
"This is the reason why Remdisivir, Fabiflu and other critical medicines are out of market. BJP leaders are hoarding these medicines. We have seen this in Gujarat also. Such leaders must be booked," AAP leader Rajesh Sharma tweeted.
This is the reason why Remdisivir, fabiflu & other critical medicines are out of market. BJP leaders are hoarding these medicines. We have seen this in Gujarat also. Such leaders must be booked. https://t.co/aNnCmz7PqH— Rajesh Sharma ।ৰাজেশ শৰ্মা ।રાજેશ શર્મા ???????? (@beingAAPian) April 21, 2021
His party colleague Somnath Bharti called Mr Gambhir's announcement "criminal".
"Is this not criminal? An MP hoarding medicines and giving it as per his wishes. Why should he not give them to the hospital?" he tweeted.
Congress leader Pawan Khera asked if his distributing the drug was legal.
1) How much Fabiflu do you have in your possession?— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) April 21, 2021
2) How did you procure so much of Fabiflu? @GautamGambhir
CC @ArvindKejriwal :
1) Is this legal?
2) Is the shortage of Fabiflu at chemists' shops due to such unauthorised procurement/distribution? https://t.co/ZfKnLINB2J
Mr Gambhir on Wednesday said those who want the medicine would have to show their Aadhaar cards and medical prescriptions.
"People of East Delhi can get 'Fabiflu' from MP office (2, Jagriti Enclave) for FREE between 10-5. Kindly get Aadhar & prescription," he tweeted.
Delhi has been reporting record daily coronavirus numbers for the last few days. On Tuesday, the worst-hit city logged over 28,000 cases in its biggest single-day spike since the pandemic started last year.
The huge pile-up of active caseload has brought the city's health infrastructure to the verge of collapse. Critical shortages of hospital beds, medicines and life-saving oxygen have been reported in Delhi.
The drug, which is being used to treat mild to moderate Covid infections by some doctors, is in short supply in the national capital.
Another antiviral drug Remdesivir is in high demand. The centre earlier this week clarified that it was not a life-saving drug. It said Remdesivir was an "experimental investigational drug" that had been granted emergency authorisation to be used only on moderately sick Covid patients on oxygen support under hospital settings.
While Remdesivir is part of the centre's prescribed treatment protocol for COVID-19, Fabiflu is not. On Monday, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, who is also a member of the national coronavirus task force, had cautioned against overuse of drugs like Fabiflu.
Delhi is also suffering from an acute shortage of medical oxygen. As several hospitals said they had only a few hours of oxygen supply left for Covid patients, the centre today increased Delhi's oxygen quota to 500 metric tonnes from 378 metric tonnes.