Raising concerns over the recent surge in coronavirus cases, Congress on Sunday demanded that the government speed up the nationwide vaccination campaign and asked what was its strategy to complete the drive within 12 months.
Citing Chhattisgarh's demand for more Covishield doses, the opposition party also urged the government to decentralise the vaccination drive and provide adequate vaccines to the states.
India on Sunday recorded 25,320 COVID-19 infections, the highest daily rise in 84 days, taking the case tally to 1,13,59,048, according to Union health ministry data. Also, the death toll increased to 1,58,607 with 161 new fatalities, the highest in 44 days.
Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil raised concerns over the rising coronavirus cases and said experts have stated that another wave of COVID-19 is starting.
"The government is trying to hide facts by giving a maze of vaccination figures. If you look at the government's claim of total vaccinations till now, it is 2,82,18,457. If you look at the 11 days of March, it is 95,90,594. Of the over 135 crore people in the country, only 1.5 per cent have got vaccines, including those who have got just the first dose," Gohil said.
Only 47.29 lakh have got both doses of vaccines which means only 0.35 vaccination has been done, he said.
"By this rate 70 per cent people will get vaccinated in 12.6 years. For 100 per cent vaccination, it will take 18 years. We have vaccines, enough of it is there. Why is the government not giving it?" he posed and accused the government of being busy in elections and not caring for the people.
Raising questions for the Narendra Modi government, Gohil asked that with experts and scientists suggesting the emergence of various coronavirus mutants, has the government scaled up genome sequencing to identify newer variants.
"What is the government's plan to complete nationwide vaccination within 12 months and not 13, 16 or 18 years," he asked.
Gohil also asked whether the government was conducting faster and sufficient RT-PCR tests.
"As it has been established worldwide, test, track and isolate is the gold standard to fight coronavirus. Is the Modi government pursuing it in the right direction?" he asked
Gohil also demanded that journalists, delivery persons, and government servants who were engaged in essential services be considered a priority group for vaccination. He also demanded decentralisation of the vaccination programme and scaling it up on priority.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with healthcare workers getting inoculated and vaccination of the frontline workers started from February 2.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 for those who are above 60 years and for people aged 45 and above with specified comorbid conditions.
Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield are the two vaccines that are being administered in the country. According to the health ministry, over 2.91 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country.