Agartala: The High Court of Tripura has observed that the claim made by the Tripura government on COVID-19 vaccination of more than 80 per cent of eligible age groups and 98 per cent of people above 45 years receiving the first dose is inaccurate and has now asked for a clarification.
The court was hearing a suo motu case on the state government’s preparedness to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
A division comprising Chief Justice AA Kureshi and Justice Subhasish Talapatra was hearing the case after the state government filed a detailed affidavit before the court.
The court observed that two local newspapers (Tripura Observer and Northeast Colour), published on June 25 quoted Dr Siddharth Shiv Jaiswal, mission director of the National Health Mission, Tripura, where he stated that around 80 per cent population of all eligible age groups and 98 per cent people above the age group of 45 have been vaccinated (first dose). However, the division bench said that from any angle, neither of these two claims was accurate.
“Going by the Government affidavit, the entire eligible population of over 18 years in the State is close to 26.86 lakhs. Population of people over 45 years is approximately 12.36 lakhs. On the date when the Mission Director made these claims, the total vaccines administered were 24,26,803 of which 5,66,458 were of second dose. Total number of people vaccinated was thus 18,60,345,” the court observed.
The division bench further said that the total doses of vaccines administered for arriving at this 80 per cent coverage, forgetting that substantial part of it was administered to the same person as a second dose. Total vaccine doses administered to people over 45 years as on that date was 14,36,595. Second dose was by then given to 5,66,458 people bulk of which was from this age group since vaccination for people below 45 years had started only recently. Thus around 9 lakh out of 12.36 lakh people over 45 years were given the vaccine. This certainly does not come to 98 per cent of the population in that age group.
The Chief Justice said that from the beginning in this public interest petition we have been putting great stress on the reliability of public information distribution because we believe that it is only when there is total transparency and accuracy in data provided by the State machinery that the people will understand the correct picture and will have faith in data distribution system.
“When an officer as responsible as the Mission Direction of National Health Mission, Tripura, is quoted to have provided information which was inaccurate, we expected him to issue a correction statement to the press,” the division bench observed.
“Going by the press reports, he had conducted a press conference to provide this information. At least, an official statement to the press pointing out that either there was an error on his side in providing the information or there was a misunderstanding on part of the press should have been issued. We expect him to do so without any further delay. We request the learned Advocate General to communicate this to him,” the court said.
The court also asked the advocate general to apprise the court if there is any analysis of data of the death which may establish primary cause for relatively high mortality so that such cause can be addressed.
The court observed that there are approximately 26.86 lakh eligible people above the age of 18 years in the state. As on July 7, about 22,22,254 people have already received their first dose of vaccines of which 6,26,402 have received second dose as well. However, the court expressed concern about the depleting stock of vaccines in the State and resultant drop in daily vaccinations.
“In our state, surely there are large number of people (about 14 lakhs going by the figures of the vaccine bulletin) who have received the first Page – 4 of 6 vaccine but not the second vaccine. The state administration must think about raising sufficient number of vaccine dozes to cover this population within the recommended period,” the court said.
Further, Chief Justice AA Kureshi said, “We are conscious that the distribution of the vaccines across the country is being done by a specially constituted committee which takes into account various factors while deciding proportionate distribution of such vaccines to different states. If need be, the state government may take up this issue with the committee for allocation of sufficient vaccines to the State in view of its committed requirement.”
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