Rahul Gandhi, a key politician in India’s main opposition party Congress, on Thursday criticised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government over its “alarming” state of unpreparedness for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi, the former chief of the Congress Party, said, "A fair and inclusive COVID vaccine access strategy should have been in place by now. But there are still no signs of it. The government of India's unpreparedness is alarming".
A fair and inclusive Covid vaccine access strategy should have been in place by now.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 27, 2020
But there are still no signs of it.
GOI’s unpreparedness is alarming. https://t.co/AUjumgGjGC
On India’s 74th Independence Day on 15 August, Prime Minister Modi said that Indian scientists are working on three vaccine candidates.
"Three COVID-19 vaccines are under various stages of testing. Once we get a green signal from scientists, production will take place at full speed. We have finalised the plan to ensure availability of the vaccine to the masses", Modi said in his national address on Independence Day celebrated earlier this month.
However, Gandhi, the parliamentarian son of Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi, has been demanding the central government have a fair and affordable distribution mechanism for the vaccine.
A day ahead of Independence Day, Gandhi had called for “inclusive and equitable” access to the vaccine for all.
India’s domestic pharmaceutical firm, Bharat Biotech has almost completed phase-II clinical trials for its vaccine, named Covaxin.
The vaccine has been developed from virus strains separated by the National Institute of Virology under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The National Institute of Virology handed over the strains to Bharat Biotech in June of this year for development of a vaccine. Similarly, another Indian pharmaceutical company in the race for a vaccine, Zydus Cadila is also in the process of phase II trials of its vaccine ZyCoc-D.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), a manufacturer of immunobiological drugs including vaccines, is also conducting phase II trials of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine in India and will go on to conduct phase III trials as well.
According to the federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's latest statistics, there are 725,991 active COVID cases in the country. However, there have been 60,472 deaths so far.