‘India will lose Covid battle if Centre, states fail to combat virus together’

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NEW DELHI :
Citing “massive” vaccine shortage in the country, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said India will lose the Covid battle if the Centre and states fail to combat the fatal virus together.

Kejriwal appealed to the Centre and states to join hands as Team India to procure vaccines while he “assured” the prime minister that all chief ministers were ready to take any responsibility given to them.

“Why is the country not buying vaccines? India is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, and in such a situation, state governments cannot be asked to look out for themselves. If tomorrow, Pakistan declares war on India, should UP buy its own tanks and Delhi its own weapons?” Kejriwal said in an online briefing.

“In past many months, several big mistakes were made. At a time when other countries were vaccinating their citizen, we were exporting vaccines. Vaccination is already delayed by six months in the country,” he said.

Claiming India developed the first vaccine against Covid, Kejriwal expressed disappointment that the urgency towards vaccination was still missing.

“India cannot lose this battle. If the central government loses, the BJP will not lose, India will lose. If the Delhi government loses, the Aam Aadmi Party will not lose, India will. If the Maharashtra government loses, the Shiv Sena would not lose, India will,” he said.

This is the time to work harmoniously and not engage in competition with state governments. This is the time when the governments of 36 states and Union Territories, along with the central government should work together as Team India, he stated.

“I would like to assure the prime minister that all the CMs are with you and are ready to take any responsibility, but the Centre should also fulfill its responsibilities. The states cannot fulfill the responsibilities of the Centre,” Kejriwal stated.

The central government has assigned the responsibility of buying vaccines to the states but not a single state has been successful in procuring the doses, Kejriwal said citing his interaction with other chief ministers.

“The Centre cannot abdicate its responsibilities and leave it to the state governments. It is responsible for procuring the vaccines and supplying them to the states,” he said.

Kejriwal claimed the country lacked a plan for vaccine distribution and mass-scale vaccination, saying many other countries in the world have successfully accomplished it and brought Covid under control.

Citing vaccine shortage in Delhi, Kejriwal said the doses for 18-44 years age group have finished and Covaxin stock for those aged 45 years and above has also run out.

“This is not just the case with Delhi but across the country. In a pandemic situation, we should ideally be opening new centres every day, but that’s not happening. We’re facing a massive shortage of vaccines in the country,” he said.

If the people in India had been vaccinated at the right time, then possibly the effect of the second wave could have been reduced and many lives could have been saved, he said.

“The second wave has proved to be extremely deadly for the country. Barely any family has remained untouched by COVID,” he said.

Despite all-out efforts, the states have so far failed to get even an extra dose of vaccine from any company while many of them issued global tenders but failed, claimed the chief minister.

Kejriwal said foreign vaccine manufacturers have made it clear that they will deal with the Centre and not entertain the demands from individual states.

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