Chidambaram attacks Centre over vax procurement policy

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New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) With global vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna refusing to deal with states like Punjab and Delhi, saying that they will deal only with the Central government, Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Monday attacked the Narendra Modi government over its vaccine procurement policy.

In a statement he said, “The central government’s direction to the states to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers abroad was a cynical move.If Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have not yet been approved for use by the central government, how will they deal with or sell to the states? “

Chidambaram alleged that the government has rebuffed Congress advice as well as the suggestion of the Courts, that procurement of vaccines must be centralised.

“The Modi government is callous and cruel. Meanwhile, the shortage of vaccines will continue and the people will suffer and thousands will die. What a tragedy!” he said.

Citing its policy, Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer Moderna has refused to send the vaccine direct to Punjab, state nodal officer for vaccination Vikas Garg said on Sunday. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Monday said US pharmaceutical companies manufacturing Covid vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — have made it clear they won’t sell vaccines directly to the Delhi government.

“We have spoken to Pfizer and Moderna for vaccines, and both the manufacturers have refused to sell vaccines directly to us. They have said they will deal with the central government. We appeal to the Centre to import vaccines and distribute to the states,” Sisodia, who is also the nodal minister for Covid management in Delhi, said.

Punjab nodal officer Garg said all vaccine manufacturers were approached for direct purchase of vaccines, including Sputnik V, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Garg said a reply was received only from Moderna in which the company refused to deal with the state government.

The state was forced to stop vaccination for Phase 1 and 2 categories in the last three days because of non-availability of vaccines.