Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has responded to the letter from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed to his successor Narendra Modi in connection with the Covid-19 vaccination drive. In his response, Dr Harsh Vardhan pointed out the manner in which his own party members have conducted themselves over the same.
The Health Minister also raised his objection towards using different metrics to measure the success of the vaccination drive and the severity of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The emphasis you have laid on vaccination as an important tool to fight COVID-19 is well taken, which is exactly why India launched the world’s biggest vaccination drive and also became the fastest in the world to reach the milestones of 10, II and 12 crore administered doses,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.
He continued, “Your advice to not get tempted to go by absolute numbers, but to go by percentage of population covered, is not incorrect. However, I am sure that you will agree with me that this is a practice that must be followed uniformly and junior members of your party too must follow your advice. Quite obviously, it cannot be that the discussion on total cases, active cases or mortality is based on absolute numbers, which the Congress party often tries to do, but the vaccination numbers continue to be touted as a percentage of the population covered.”
The Union Health Minister also emphasized the conduct of Manmohan Singh’s party men who have spread falsehood regarding the efficacy of the vaccines and contributed to vaccine hesitancy. He said, “A sitting Chief Minister of your party created a dubious world record of sorts by being the only head of government directly inciting people against an indigenously developed vaccine. Some Congress leaders even shamed the vaccines in public but took their doses in private, quietly.”
He stated further, “The irresponsible public pronouncements made by some of your leaders have resulted in a below national average vaccination coverage of senior citizens and even front-line workers in some of the Congress-ruled states. Please do note that it is these very same states that have also become the big contributors in the second wave of COVID-19 infection. The test positivity ratio in these states during the second wave is alarmingly high and they too could benefit from your counsel and wisdom.”
Dr Harsh Vardhan also pointed out that Manmohan Singh’s suggestion of allowing import of vaccines was made in the 18th April letter but a decision on it had already been announced a week earlier. He said that the former Prime Minister was misled by those who ‘drafted’ his letter to PM Modi or advised him on the same. The Union Health Minister expressed hope that Manmohan Singh will urge leaders of the Congress party to cooperate in the battle against the pandemic.
While sharing the letter on social media, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “History shall be kinder to you Dr Manmohan Singh ji if your offer of ‘constructive cooperation’ and valuable advice was followed by your Congress leaders as well in such extraordinary times!”