Urgent need for ‘vaccine universalisation’ and ‘vaccine nationalism’, says AAP leader

Chadha accused the Central government of indulging in “diplomatic adventurism” by exporting over 64 million doses of vaccine.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Raghav Chadha on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressing the urgent need for “vaccine universalisation” and “vaccine nationalism” to deal with a shortage of vaccine doses being faced in several States across the country.

Mr. Chadha said that he was writing in his capacity as a representative of young India and an elected legislator, and accused the Central government of indulging in “diplomatic adventurism” by exporting over 64 million doses of vaccine to 84 countries, and “overlooking and neglecting the fundamental rights” of its citizens to basic healthcare and protection by vaccination against COVID-19.

“Government of India has chosen to export over 64 million doses to 84 countries while Indian citizens are desperately looking for a vaccination centre that is still open. I wish to ask the government of India as to what its priority is — the people of Delhi or of Dominican Republic? The people of Maharashtra or of Mauritius? The people of Bengal or Bangladesh? Gujarat or Guyana? Odisha or Oman? Uttar Pradesh or United Kingdom? Kerala or Kenya?,” Mr. Chadha said in his letter.

He added “while we do not begrudge other countries humanitarian aid, the same cannot be at the cost of Indian citizens, particularly young India, which has been waiting for its turn ever since the vaccine became available”. He urged that the Centre adopt ‘vaccine nationalism’ and prioritise vaccinating the entire 135 crore in India before earning trivial international laurels. “Do not let vaccination centres shut while doses are being flown out of the country. It is further alarming to read reports that the government of India will be exporting nearly 45 million doses to Pakistan in the coming days. On one hand, the government of India claims that Pakistan has only exported terrorism to India. On the other hand, we are exporting life-saving vaccines to Pakistan,” the leader said.

Mr. Chadha also appealed to not regard youngsters as “expendable collateral damage” in the government’s diplomatic moves. “The fundamental right to health is not the reserve of just the old and the ailing. It is important that the government of India urgently understands that we need vaccine universalisation,’ Mr. Chadha said.

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