In a bid to intensify the fight against the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, India will observe a four-day 'vaccine festival' (Tika Utsav) in the country. It will begin on Sunday, and continue till Wednesday (April 14). The Tika Utsav is being observed with an aim to inoculate a maximum number of eligible people against the viral disease.
The call for the vaccine festival was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his interaction with chief ministers of all states and union territories on Thursday where he discussed the Covid-19 situation on the ongoing vaccination drive in the country. "Sometimes, it helps in changing the atmosphere. The birth anniversary of Jyotiba Phule is on April 11 and on April 14, there is the birth anniversary of Baba Saheb. Can we organise a 'Tika Utsav: or vaccine festival and create an atmosphere of 'Tika Utsav'?" PM Modi said in the meeting.
"We should vaccinate as many eligible people through a special campaign and decide on zero wastage. If there is zero wastage in four days during 'Tika Utsav', it will also increase our vaccination capacity," he also said.
While states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar extended their full support to the festival and appealed to all eligible beneficiaries to vaccinate themselves in the four days, it drew criticism from leaders of opposition parties. On Friday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said vaccine shortage in the country is a serious issue and not a festival. "Amid the growing corona crisis, shortage of vaccines is a very serious issue and not an "utsav", he wrote on Twitter in Hindi.
Vaccine shortage row
The festival comes amid claims of vaccine shortage in the country. Several states including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have said they won't be able to continue the inoculation drive due to shortage of vaccine doses. The Centre, however, dismissed the claims and said that sufficient quantities of jabs have been allocated to all the states and more will be supplied over the coming days.
Responding to the requests and concerns by states, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the country has enough doses and urged state governments to put an end to "fear-mongering".
Vaccination drive in India
India is the fastest nation to administer 100 million doses in 85 days, the Union health ministry said on Saturday. As of Saturday evening, the cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country stands at 10,12,84,282.
In terms of the number of daily doses administered globally, India continues to remain at the top with an average of 38,93,288 doses administered per day, the ministry also said on Saturday.
The US took 89 days to administer 10 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, while China took 102 days to cross the same number, according to the health ministry.