Record vaccination on PM Modi’s birthday: Gift or a scam?

Hyderabad: On September 17th, over 2.5 crore Covid vaccine doses were administered in India, marking the highest number of vaccinations in a day. The record vaccination drive was taken out to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 71th birthday with the Bharatiya Janata Party celebrating the numbers and dedicating it as a gift to him.

Prior to Modi’s birthday, India administered an average of 70 lakh doses per day in the last 30 days.

However, questions are now being raised over the “record vaccination” as several reports, which point to certain discrepancies, have emerged.

Bihar, which is among the five lowest-performing states in India has recorded 33,98,685 vaccinations, to top the chart followed Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat all states are run by a BJP government. Bihar is run by an alliance of Janata Dal and the BJP.

According to a report by The Scroll, a large amount of data recorded offline, on the 15th and 16th, was held back to be uploaded on the 17th of September. The report also says that the health officials were under immense pressure to perform to mark the Prime Minister’s birthday. Operators were paid an additional Rs 150 to work overtime and officials worked from home, beyond midnight, to upload maximum data.

Several primary health centre officials in various districts of Bihar were informed that the “session site” to log vaccinations would be shut on the 16th of September with the instructions to carry out vaccinations offline.

Many districts that reflected zero vaccinations on CoWIN for the 14th, 15th and 16th of September reported that vaccination drives took place as usual on these days.

“The administration is putting a lot of pressure on the health system. The entire vaccination is handled by district magistrates. Civil surgeons just follow instructions,” a senior official in the state government was quoted by The Scroll.

Meanwhile, NDTV reported that a number a people who had not taken vaccines were issued vaccination certificates on September 17.

According to NDTV, Ashutosh Sharma, a resident of Aagar-Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh, was shocked after he received a message regarding his mother’s vaccination. However, the twist is that Ashutosh ‘s mother had died of Covid four months ago.

“Dear Vidya Sharma, you have successfully been vaccinated with your second dose with Covishield on 17th September, when India set a world record in vaccinations,” read the text message.

“I have her death certificate in one hand and her vaccination certificate in another… I think a lot of pressure is being put on the officials, to increase the numbers,” Ashutosh told NDTV.