Days after allegedly harassing the director of Daman-based pharma company Bruck Pharmaceuticals over the supply of Remdesivir vials to Maharashtra, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Tuesday announced that it will import vaccines from other countries and divert funds from all the departments to carry out an extensive vaccination drive.
The decision came after the central government made the vaccines accessible to the entire adult population of the country. Welcoming the decision, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said the state cabinet on Tuesday decided to conduct an “exemplary vaccination drive”. He further added that if required the state government will cut down funds of all other departments to ensure the availability of vaccines for people.
Tope was quoted by Indian Express as saying those between 18-45 years of age can get vaccinated for Rs 400 in government hospitals and for Rs 600 at private hospitals. He also added that presently, Covishield and Covaxin are available and if needed, the state will import other vaccines. Sputnik will cost Rs 1750 per dose.
Tope said that the Maha government will try to procure Sputnik, Pfizer and Moderna doses too.
Tope had earlier stated that the plan of the state government was to inoculate 7 lakh people every day but due to the supply constraints, it could only vaccinate about 3 lakh people. The health minister added that the state would like to follow the model adopted by the United Kingdom in vaccinating its people after witnessing a dangerous spike in the COVID-19 cases last year.
“Today, 60 per cent of the UK’s population is vaccinated. Very few new cases are being detected, while the death toll is in single digits. The entire country was kept under lockdown for three months and the vaccination drive was carried out on a massive scale,” he said.
“We have decided to cut the expenses of all the departments and divert the funds for vaccine procurement. We will not limit our plans only to the two vaccines that are manufactured in the country (Covishield and Covaxin),” he said.
Maharashtra among the worst-affected states by the coronavirus pandemic
Maharashtra is among the worst-affected states by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 50,000 new cases being reported daily in the last two weeks. The decision to import vaccines from abroad was taken even as the state government is facing criticism from several quarters for its bungled handling of the coronavirus outbreak that inevitably led to such a dire situation in the state.
Last week, Mumbai Police detained and questioned the director of Daman-based pharma company Bruck Pharmaceuticals over the supply of Remdesivir vials, one of the anti-viral drugs prescribed to some patients with severe symptoms of Chinese coronavirus. While Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis alleged that the director was arrested because BJP managed to get permissions in place for the supply of the drug to Maharashtra, Mumbai Police claims they only ‘questioned’ him because of rampant black marketing of the drug.
Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders weave conspiracy theories to escape being held responsible for the shortages of crucial medicines
In an attempt to discredit the opposition parties and paint the director of the Pharma company as a crook, elaborate lies and conspiracy theories were floated by the Maha Vikas Aghadi ministers, Congress stooges like and serial petitioner Saket Gokhale, to allege that the supply of Remdesivir procured by Devendra Fadnavis was meant for Gujarat and not Maharashtra.
However, Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Administration Minister and NCP leader Dr Rajendra Shingne’s admission put all conspiracy theories triggered by his own government and the alliance leaders to rest. In an interview to News18 Lokmat on Tuesday, Dr Rajendra Shingne admitted that the Remdesivir procured by the opposition party Bhartiya Janta Party was indeed intended for the Maharashtra government, and he was aware of the same.
“I was aware of it. The BJP leaders had met me at my house along with the manufacturers’ representatives. They offered to help us procure the Remdesivir stocks for the state government and I agreed to it. The entire process was done following all rules, with due permissions and with genuine intentions to help the citizens,” he informed much to MVA’s dismay.