New Delhi: By putting trust in scientists and easing approval processes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured that India developed new vaccines, and Indians started getting vaccinated within one year, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told Lok Sabha Friday.
Mandaviya was speaking as part of a discussion on the Covid pandemic. The Lok Sabha discussed the matter for close to 12 hours Thursday.
“I am proud of our vaccine industry that supplies 70 per cent of the global requirement of vaccines, but you have to understand that this research was done in our (Modi government’s) time. ZyCoV-D and Covaxin are fully developed in India and Covishield is being manufactured in India through technology transfer,” Mandaviya said.
“Earlier, just permissions for that research required three years. We eased those processes. It was Modiji who told scientists that I trust you, you work hard and I will support you,” the minister added.
He also said that while India had the wherewithal, “it was Modiji who challenged and channelised those resources to ensure that the country could fight the pandemic”. It was the first time that the government had given money to scientific organisations to develop a vaccine, Mandaviya said.
He also apprised the House about the two cases of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that were detected in Karnataka, and the contact tracing and isolation measures undertaken since.
‘People provoked, poor insulted’
Mandaviya said without wasting time blaming others for having kept the health infrastructure of the country weak, the Modi government started acting early on to bolster it. He accused Opposition parties of indulging in politics when the country was going through a difficult time.
“The country will not forget their politics in those difficult times. People were provoked during the first lockdown, the Opposition insulted the poor by criticising the biggest food programme since Independence. They insulted those very same people who they had kept poor by their policies,” he said.
“They questioned Indian scientists and the vaccines developed by them so that people started getting scared. They tried to frighten people by saying this is a BJP vaccine and this is a Modi vaccine.”
He added that as Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, he had tried his utmost to make available whatever medicines states required during the second Covid wave in April-May this year.
‘Vaccinate your constituency’
Replying to a question from Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi about whether the entire adult population of the country would be double vaccinated by the end of the year, as had been claimed on the floor of the House by former health minister Harsh Vardhan, Mandaviya retorted, “Why don’t you ensure 100 per cent vaccination in your own constituency by the end of the year? If you do that the country will also get vaccinated. If all of you public representatives take it upon yourselves to vaccinate your constituencies our goal will be met…”
“By the resolution of PM Modi and the dedication of healthcare workers, India is running the world’s biggest vaccination programme. Out of 94 crore eligible adults, 79 crore have got the first dose and 46.38 crore are fully vaccinated,” the minister continued.
He stated that currently, 22 crore unused vaccine doses were lying with the states.
Mandaviya said of the 75,000 additional ventilators that were needed over and above the 16,000 that were already there in 2020, 42,000 have been installed. Of the 1,225 PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) oxygen plants, 70 per cent are running.
“You are targeting it just because ventilators were bought from PM CARES (fund),” he told the Opposition when he was questioned about the number of ventilators bought from the fund.
‘State minister from Opposition party thanked me’
Mandaviya caused much consternation on the Opposition benches when he claimed that during his interactions with the health minister of an Opposition-ruled state, the minister had complimented him for his accessibility and promptness of response.
“As we started talking often, we developed a comfort level and he told me in confidence that even when ‘we had our government in the Centre’ the response was never this prompt,” the minister said.
As Opposition MPs demanded that he name the state, he smiled and said: “You cannot name a person who is not a member of the House. Also, if I name the person, they will pull him up.”
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)