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Private sector lagging in COVID-19 vaccination drive: Piyush Goyal

A healthcare worker inoculates a man with a dose of Covishield in Siliguri on July 24, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Taking on the private sector for failing to pick up the 25% COVID-19 vaccines quota allotted to them, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday that the government will ensure everybody gets a free vaccine in the country with or without their help.

Stressing that the Centre has been ‘responsive’ to industry as well as States’ demands for a greater say in the vaccination drive, the Minister said business groups had made lofty promises at the time about going to the hinterland and delivering crores of jabs, but had failed to deliver.

Private sector lagging in COVID-19 vaccination drive: Piyush Goyal

“You all (in the private sector) demanded and I remember how much you all fought with me and sought that vaccination be opened up for the private sector. Today, you are not even buying those 25% of vaccines (allotted to you),” Mr. Goyal said.

“Please also calibrate your actions once you get what you demanded… But don’t worry, our government is committed to provide a free vaccine to everybody that is eligible irrespective of whether the private sector does take the 25% quota. We will ensure everybody gets vaccinated,” he said.

“I remember one industry group said ‘I will do one crore vaccinations’ and another said ‘we will go to remote areas and do it’. Nobody has gone to Bihar, Northeast, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to run campaigns to remove vaccine hesitancy and use up that 25% quota,” the Minister pointed out in an address at the plenary session of the CII-Horasis India meeting.

Also read: States, Centre spar over vaccine wastage

Underlining that vaccination is critical to the economy’s turnaround, Mr. Goyal said he expects almost every adult to have at least one dose by December this year, with most of them getting a second dose as well.

While vaccine hesitancy remained a concern, the Minister said “India should be proud of being the world’s largest vaccinator” with about 42-43 crore jabs already completed. “Our run rate is now 12 crore or so every month and soon to become 15 crore in the next one or two months and possibly, 20 crore by the end of the calendar year,” he said.

Also read: Will 25% COVID-19 vaccines for private hospitals aggravate inequity?

Brushing aside Opposition jibes about the pace of vaccination in the country, he said politicians seek to ‘demean’ the progress and talk about the percentage of vaccination in the population. “Obviously, we have 1.3 billion people, the UK has 60 million. If you compare the percentages, it is quite irrational if you ask me,” he said.

“When vaccination started, recall the hesitancy. Even today, in Delhi, a very enlightened city, 20% of the frontline workers who started getting vaccinated six months ago, are still not jabbed, and a lot of places have hesitancy,” Mr Goyal said, urging industry bodies like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to run campaigns to remove doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine among the people.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 2:31:54 AM |

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