In 7 minutes, Bihar Deputy CM makes 1 misleading, 3 untrue claims
Bihar's Deputy CM Renu Devi quotes incorrect data on vaccination cost, coverage and vans
Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi, in a seven-minute-long interview with The Print, made four incorrect claims regarding the state's population and vaccination.
Devi mainly spoke about how the state managed the second wave by increasing oxygen supply and hiring medical staff to fulfil the shortage. She also said nobody in the entire country expected the second wave to be this devastating.
FactChecker looked at official data and spoke to experts to verify her claims. Here's what we found:
Claim 1: "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reduced the cost of a vaccine dose, which earlier was around Rs 900 in the private sector, to Rs 150," said the deputy CM.
Fact: This claim is false as it's not the cost that has been capped by the Centre but the service charge.
PM Modi, in his address on June 7, said the Centre will procure 75% of jabs from vaccine manufacturers and supply them for free to states, while private sector hospitals will continue to buy the remaining 25% from the manufacturers directly. Also, private hospitals are not allowed to charge more than Rs 150 per dose as service charge.
Consecutively, on June 8, the Centre set the maximum price private hospitals can charge for all the three vaccines to Covishield Rs 780 per dose, Covaxin Rs 1,410 and Sputnik V Rs 1,145.
Claim 2: "Bihar's population is the highest with 13 crore people," said the state's deputy CM.
Fact: Although the number is correct, her claim about Bihar being the most populous state is untrue. It stands second on this list.
According to the Unique Identification Authority of India, the projected population of Bihar in 2020 was 12.47 crore, trumped by Uttar Pradesh (23.78 crore).
Claim 3: "It will take time to vaccinate 13 crore people as currently we have crossed 1-crore mark under the vaccination drive," Devi said in the interview.
Fact: To vaccinate a population of 13 crore, would mean administering 26 crore doses since the two vaccines in India — Covaxin and Covishield — require two shots for protection against COVID-19.
Although, in Bihar a total of 1.14 crore doses have been given, the number of fully vaccinated people in the state is at 18.83 lakh, according to the Co-WIN dashboard. So, drawing a comparison between population and number of doses administered is misleading.
"Vaccination drive in Bihar is being carried out at a very slow pace. Till June 7, the state had fully vaccinated 2.5% of its population. To ensure that all residents of the state are vaccinated till December 2021, the government will have to make a timeline and vaccinate at a speed 8-9 times higher than the current pace," said Dr Shakeel, consultant at The Polyclinic, a non-profit health organisation, and convener of the Jan Swath Abhiyaan (Public Health Campaign) in Bihar.
Claim 4: "We have 726 vaccination vans in rural areas and 121 in urban areas," claimed the former vice-president of BJP.
Fact: On June 3, the Bihar government launched COVID-19 express vans to intensify the vaccination drive. The Tika Express is a mobile van that carries healthcare staff to far flung areas offering free vaccination to residents.
While flagging off the 121 vans for urban areas, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said there already are 718 such vans administering around 200 people a day in rural areas. So, although slightly off, the 726 number quoted by Devi is incorrect.
FactChecker tried contacting Renu Devi, but the call was answered by Sandeep Kushwaha, who identified himself as her associate and asked us to call after three days for a comment. This story will be updated as and when we do receive a response.
The state revised its COVID-19 death figures on June 9 and registered a 72% jump to 9,429 deaths compared to the earlier figure of 5,478. While the state gave a district-wise break-up of this number, it didn't specify in which period did these deaths take place. Patna topped the list with 2,303 deaths.
Dr Shakeel said the revised numbers are still incorrect and listed three reasons for this. He attributed the under-reporting to registration of data from only government hospitals, in-transit deaths and inaccessibility of facilities in rural areas.
"Even after the revision, the state government is still only counting COVID-19 deaths taking place in public hospitals. Two-third of the COVID beds in Bihar are in the private sector, so essentially data from only one-third of the facilities is being counted," said Dr Shakeel.
"Owing to a terrible ratio of beds and patients in the state, people had to run from hospital to hospital looking for a bed and many times died in that process. They weren't registered as COVID deaths. There are also examples of people in rural areas who died after facing shortage of oxygen, ambulances or other medical facilities," he concluded.