India achieved a momentous milestone in its Covid-19 vaccination drive on Friday by administering over 1 crore doses in a single day, its highest single-day count so far.
According to the latest data provided in the CoWIN portal, the total doses administered on Friday was 1,03,00,992. With this, the total number of Covid-19 vaccine doses given in India has crossed 62 crores, the second-highest in the world after China. The inoculation of more than one crore doses of vaccines in a day is a very significant achievement, which is more than the population of over 100 countries in the world.
The historic achievement of effectively administering vaccines to many people comes amidst the massive political campaign against the centre over its vaccination policy. Prominent political leaders, businessmen, lawyers, and journalists led a nefarious online campaign not only to discredit the Modi government’s vaccination drive but also to create panic and cast aspersions about the efficacy of the Coronavirus vaccine.
Rahul Gandhi’s continues propaganda against vaccination drive
The Congress party, especially Gandhi-scion Rahul Gandhi, has taken the lead to politicise the country’s vaccination drive. It appears that Rahul Gandhi has decided in advance that he will oppose the centre’s vaccination drive despite its success in administering vaccines to a large number of the country’s population.
However, in his hurry to target the centre over its vaccine policy, Rahul Gandhi has indulged in propagating rampant misinformation against the centre, thus creating vaccine hesitancy in the minds of the common masses.
Here is a list of misinformation Rahul Gandhi had peddled in the last few months to score a political point against the centre over its vaccination campaign.
Just this week, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had created a wave of panic in the minds of people after he had claimed that the government was busy with sales and instead people should take care of themselves. Furthermore, the Gandhi-scion claimed that there was a rise in Covid-19 infections in the country, and hence vaccination must pick up to avoid serious outcomes in the next wave.
He urged people not to trust the government and take care of themselves, as it was busy with sales.
Rahul Gandhi’s tweets had come despite the government had effective steps to control the pandemic, which is clearly visible in the lower number of fresh infections in the country, barring Communist-ruled Kerala, which Rahul Gandhi represents in Lok Sabha. Apart from Kerala, almost every state has managed to minimise the transmission of the Chinese virus and have successfully stopped the deaths due to Covid-19.
Besides Covid-19 management, the state governments have stepped up vaccination drives in their respective states, thanks to a steady supply of vaccines by the central government. Even though the vaccination in the country started at a slower rate, largely due to the availability of doses, it has picked up in the last two months once the centre stepped into solving the crisis.
Since last month, an average of 50 lakh doses of vaccines has been administered across the country, taking the total tally of vaccination to around 62 crores. On June 21, a record of over 86 lakh doses was administered in a single day. Since then, daily vaccinations are hovering between around 40 lakh to 80 lakh per day, barring holidays. On August 16, that record was broken, and the 90 lakh mark was crossed when 92.39 doses were administered in a single day. The record was broken again on August 27, when the total tally crossed the one crore mark.
Well, this is not the first time that Rahul Gandhi has resorted to using vaccination drives as a bogey to launch attacks on the centre. Rather than appreciating the Modi government over its meticulous vaccination policy, Rahul Gandhi has aggressively pushed conspiracy theories against the campaign to make the government look bad in the eyes of the people.
In April this year, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had questioned the Modi government’s vaccine diplomacy initiatives suggesting that the government should not have exported vaccines to other countries. He had asked if it is right to do so and put the lives of Indians in danger.
He said vaccine shortage was a “very serious problem” during times of coronavirus, and it was not a celebration.
“Is it right to export the vaccine and put Indians at risk? The central government should help all states without any bias. We all have to fight this pandemic together and defeat it,” he added tweeted.
The entire narrative of India “sending doses abroad” is misplaced as the doses of vaccines sent to friendly nations under “Vaccine Maitri” is a small percentage of what India has already provided to its own citizens. Also, the “Vaccine Maitri” initiative has built an enormous amount of international goodwill for India, reflective of the support and help India is getting from several nations to battle the second wave of the Covid crisis.
Moreover, the Indian government had to export the vaccines to other countries because of “contractual obligations”, besides goodwill gestures. More than 20 million vaccine doses were sent to World Health Organization’s COVAX facility, a vaccine initiative led by GAVI, CEPI and UNICEF.
Perhaps, Rahul Gandhi seems to have no clear understanding of the nuances and the subtility of international diplomacy and instead targeted the Modi government over its decision to supply critical vaccines to India’s allies.
Well, he did not stop there. A few weeks later, the Gandhi-scion demanded free Covid-19 vaccination for all Indians.
Putting out a tweet with the dictionary meaning and usage of the word “free”, Gandhi attempted to mislead the public by saying that the government was charging money to administer Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens.
However, Rahul Gandhi’s claim that the centre or states were charging money from the citizens to administer vaccines is not entirely true.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 7 June, announced that vaccines for Covid-19 would be free in India for all citizens above the age of 18 years from 21 June onwards. Prior to June 21, the responsibility of providing free vaccines was upon the states as vaccination is a state subject.
As health is a state subject, the Centre was only providing vaccines to states at a nominal rate, and then it is up to the states to charge for vaccines or not. Until June, the states were responsible for providing the vaccines to residents, whether free or paid. As states failed to carry out vaccination drives effectively, the centre took the responsibility of the vaccination drive in the country and declared it as free of cost.
Again in June, Rahul Gandhi had taken to Twitter to mock the centre on its vaccine policy, saying the Modi government was fighting for a “blue tick” and people need to become self-reliant for getting Covid vaccines.
Rahul’s remarks had come amidst outrage over removing the “blue tick” verification from the personal accounts of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and RSS top functionaries, including Mohan Bhagwat, by Twitter, only to restore it later.
By linking the two unconnected issues, Rahul Gandhi had not only trivialised the issue of vaccination in the country but also put out misinformation pertaining to vaccine availability in the country. As mentioned, there has been a considerable increase in the number of vaccine availability across the states ever since the union government took over the responsibility of vaccine delivery in June.
A week later, Rahul Gandhi had taken to Twitter to attack the government over its recent decision to extend the gap between two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks from six to eight weeks.
Attacking the Modi government, the Gandhi-scion had claimed that India needed quick and complete vaccination and “not the BJP’s brand of lies and rhyming slogans” to cover up the vaccine shortage caused by the government’s inaction.
Gandhi had also attached a news report that claimed the government doubled the gap between the two doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine without the agreement of the scientific group that it said had recommended the increase. In response to Rahul Gandhi’s misleading claims, Union Health Minister had launched a scathing attack against the Congress MP, accusing him of making mythical claims without checking any facts.
However, in a major embarrassment to Rahul Gandhi, the chief of AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine clinical trials had backed the centre’s decision to increase the gap between the 12-16 weeks gap between the two doses of Covishield in the country.
In response to Rahul Gandhi’s misleading claims, Union Health Minister had launched a scathing attack against the Congress MP, accusing him of making mythical claims without checking any facts.
Later in July, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had attempted again to take a swipe at the government, saying that July has come, but vaccines have not.
The tweet had drawn a sharp retort from the government, which cited figures to ask the Gandhi-scion to stop spreading “confusion. Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had put out facts on vaccine availability for the entire month and had mocked the Congress leader saying there was no vaccine for the virus of ignorance.
As Rahul Gandhi peddled misinformation to target the centre’s vaccine policy, the Congress party leaders and its media ecosystem joined him to derail the vaccination process. While some opposed vaccination drive to turn around their political fortunes, others targetted the vaccine manufacturers in a bid to demoralise them.
Congress party, its ecosystem promotes vaccine hesistancy
One of the strategies employed by them was discrediting the indigenous Covaxin vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech. The government had approved its emergency use in the month of January.
Using this as the primary tool for propaganda, Congress leaders such as Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, and Chhattisgarh health Minister TS Singh Deo trivialised the vaccination drive altogether. This is despite the fact that Covishield (developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca) and manufactured by Serum Institue of India (SII) was primarily used until Covaxin completed the third phase trials (with 81% efficacy).
In early February, Lawyer-turned-activist Prashant Bhushan had discouraged the Indian government from procuring the Covershield vaccine from a private company, the Serum Institute of India (SII). Congress party sympathiser and troll Swati Chaturvedi had also expressed her “zero faith” in the Bharat Biotech vaccine. She had also hinted at a possible “corporate nexus” between Bharat Biotech and the Indian government, besides vowing not to receive the Covaxin vaccine.
The extent of their collective fearmongering was such that the campaign had created panic and cast aspersions about the efficacy of the Coronavirus vaccine. However, with time, people began to realise the politics behind the nefarious campaign. Despite the collective effort of all vaccine naysayers and Covidiots, India has vaccinated a whopping 1 crore people on Friday, taking the total tally to 62 crores.