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Didi jibe at Modi over billionth vaccine dose

Miss Banerjee asked if the photo of the Prime Minister can be there on vaccination certificates, “then will the death certificates for persons who died of Covid carry the same?”

Sankha Ghosh | Siliguri |

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for celebrating the 1 billion Covid vaccination mark. Miss Banerjee also raised questions about Mr Modi’s visit to the US and wondered how he was allowed entry in America when he had taken doses of homegrown Covaxin, which is yet to be recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She also appealed to the people to adhere to the Covid-19 protocol during the upcoming festivals like Kali Puja, Diwali, Jagadhatri Puja, and Chhath.

“The Covid-19 vaccination campaign surpassing the billionth dose is being widely propagated. India is a country of 130 crore people, but the actual double dose has been administered to only 29.51 crore. Thirty-five crore people are yet to receive their first dose.¬†Arey bhai miljulke jumla kar diya? Unless 100 percent inoculation against the disease is achieved, it should not be propagated,” Miss Banerjee said while addressing a Bijaya Sammelani programme organised by the Siliguri Police Commissionerate at the Bagha Jatin Park.

Miss Banerjee handed over the Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman for best Durga Puja to four clubs of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts. She also warned about dengue and malaria. The CM is on a five-day tour of Darjeeling district. The Centre celebrated the major milestone of a billion doses nine months after the start of the campaign nationwide.

The Union health ministry also released a three-minute anthem to mark the feat. According to Miss Banerjee, 40 percent people had been vaccinated with the second dose in Bengal. She said Bengal was denied adequate vaccines as per the population of the state.

“We have administered seven crore doses when our requirement is 14 crore. Bengal has been denied adequate doses as compared to other states. The state government has vaccinated 40 percent with the second dose,” she added.

Miss Banerjee said she was wondering how the Prime Minister who had taken the Covaxin shots could travel to the US. “I wrote to the Prime Minister to ensure early approval of the indigenously developed Covaxin from the WHO. A large number of students from all over the country travel abroad for higher studies, along with industrialists, and many for medical purposes. Many of them have vaccinated themselves with Covaxin. They are now in a fix as the recipients of Covaxin are not eligible to travel to foreign countries, unlike Covishield.

In our state, we provided a maximum of Covishield vaccines. Covaxin is produced by Narendra Modi’s company. He took the shots of Covaxin, so how come he was allowed to land in America?” the CM said. The Prime Minister visited the US in September. Without WHO’s approval, the two-dose Covaxin is unlikely to be accepted as a valid Covid-19 vaccine around the world.

Miss Banerjee said if the photo of the Prime Minister can be there on vaccination certificates, “then will the death certificates for persons who died of Covid carry the same?” She appealed to people to rigorously follow the Covid-appropriate behaviour in the upcoming festivals.

She flagged concerns that a section of the people had been flouting the protocol. “The Covid-19 situation is still under control in Bengal, and here is no need to worry. But we need to follow precautions like wearing the masks regularly. We should be vigilant over Covid-19. I have seen many people not wearing or wearing masks improperly like having them on their chins or hanging around their ears. This creates problems,” she added.

The CM said that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, SMC, Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority, police commissioners, district magistrates will ensure preparation of ghats for Chhath Puja and that people should follow the Covid protocol.

Cautioning about malaria, she underlined, “Malaria cases are found during this time in north Bengal. The administration will provide mosquito nets to the people who cannot buy them.”