The TV screen was flashed with a dazzling display of a well -decorated motor van and the BJP chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in front of it with a mike in hand. He inaugurated the ‘Mega vaccine drive’ on 21 June, the ‘Magic Monday’, in his state. On 20 June, the University Grants Commission which regulates the higher education sector in India, sent a message to the vice chancellors of various universities that the Government of India was starting free vaccination for 18 years and above age group from 21 June. So, universities and colleges are requested to kindly display in their institutions the hoardings/banners as uploaded on its website. One such banner with a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, read: “Vaccines for All, Free for All”. It also highlighted India’s vaccination drive as the world’s largest free vaccination drive.
The MP chief minister was inaugurating the ‘Magic Monday’ drive with much fanfare. The number of vaccines given on that day was a record high at 88 lakhs round the country. In MP, the figure was reported to be 17 lakh doses. Dr NK Arora, Chairman of NTAGI (National Advisory Group on Immunisation), informed the country that “The government aims to vaccinate 1 crore people each day. And we have the capacity of stocking 1.25 crore doses each day”.
But, to the utter dismay of all, vaccination figures across the country dropped to 54.22 lakh on Tuesday, 22 June in the BJP-ruled states throwing up questions on whether such large scale vaccination was sustainable given the production and procurement capacity despite all tall claims by the government authorities? The MP government which gave 17 lakh doses on 21 June could only give less than 5,000 shots on 22 June. Same was with almost all other states. Figures dropped in Karnataka from 11.2 lakhs to 3.92 lakhs, in Haryana from 4.96 lakhs to 75, 894, in Gujarat from 5.10 lakhs to 4.26 lakhs. Only poll-bound Uttar Pradesh recorded more than 7 lakh doses on both the days. Obviously, eyebrows were raised. Was it that some states like MP had hoarded vaccine doses for days to achieve ‘Magic Monday’? At least figures say so. In MP, only 692 vaccines were administered on 20 June. Likewise figures of Karnataka, Gujarat, UP, and Haryana stood at 68,172, 8,800, 1.89 lakhs and 37, 537, respectively on 20 June. Incredible indeed!
(Source: India Today 22-06-21, NDTV 23-06-21 and Times of India 23-06-21)