New Delhi: The standard operating procedures or SOPs linked to the coronavirus pandemic should have been followed in political rallies in the poll-bound states and the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar, senior NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul said at the NDTV Solutions Summit.
Dr Paul was responding to the criticism that political parties continued organising rallies – where Covid protocols like social distancing and wearing masks were violated – despite an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases triggered by the rapid second wave of infections.
Similar violations of Covid protocols were seen at the mega one-month-long festival that began on April 1 amid concerns that lakhs of people coming from all parts of the country – and then returning – will worsen the already delicate coronavirus situation.
Dr VK Paul said stopping the chain of transmission was the most important part of the country’s fight against the coronavirus.
“We should talk about people’s behaviour (with regards to Covid). Even today we are not wearing masks. Still, it has not dawned on the people,” he said.
Responding to Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla’s request for financial support to ramp up anti-Covid vaccine research and production, Dr Paul said: “We had 2 vaccine manufacturers. We held their hands and helped them…We had asked them if they needed financial help. They said no. But now, it has come to financial help.”
Asked about criticism against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vaccine diplomacy, Dr Paul said: “A significant part of the export was a part of the deal of the Indian firm with AstraZeneca. Only because of this agreement AstraZeneca came to India. Another part was the WHO programme. Under Vaccine Maitri, only 10 million doses were exported.”