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Coronavirus | Prepare for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, PM Modi tells States

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a virtual meeting with the Chief Ministers of the states where Covid-19 cases have seen a sudden spurt after the festive season, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked the State governments to set up steering committees and block-wise task forces to prepare for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as and when they are available for disbursal but spent much of his meeting with the Chief Ministers emphasising that the focus should still be on containing the spread of the virus.

“Vaccines will be available when they pass all the tests for validation of data and regulatory frameworks. We must keep our focus on making sure there is no unmanageable surge in cases. We don’t know which vaccine will pass the scientific parameters for disbursal in our country and by what date, but I want all States to set up steering committees and task forces down to the block level for preparing for vaccine disbursal. It will be a large scale enterprise looking at the size of our country and keeping in mind our experience with large immunisation campaigns, we want this to be a smooth exercise with great co-ordination with State governments, who are the best judge of how things are to be done in particular States,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that his government was in touch “in real time” with vaccine candidate institutions, manufacturers, international organisations and governments co-ordinating vaccine efforts and international companies to ensure that information on vaccine availability was up to date.

Cold chain spots

Mr. Modi said availability of vaccines was in the hands of scientists, while its pricing depended on various factors, as public servants, governments should prepare cold chain spots, and availability of staff for disbursal and also any “adverse events” regarding side effects of the vaccine. “Regardless of everything, whichever vaccine is distributed in our country, rest assured it will have passed all the scientific parameters,” he said. He added that it was not even certain whether the vaccine would be a single shot one or would require two or three shots.

Also read: One crore frontline healthcare workers identified to receive vaccine in first phase

While telling the State governments to keep logistics ready for vaccine roll out, Prime Minister Modi said the primary focus of the States should still be in containing the spread of COVID-19, especially after the post festival surge being seen in several States. He had held a separate video conference with Chief Ministers of eight States — Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Gujarat and Kerala — where cases had surged recently. “We must focus on bringing down the positivity rate below 5% and the fatality rate below 1%,” said Mr. Modi, acknowledging that recovery rates in the country were better when compared globally but that it was no excuse for complacency.

4 stages of response

“We have seen four stages of how people in the country have reacted to corona. In the first stage there was fear and panic of the unknown, there were cases of suicide upon diagnosis. In the second stage we found fear and suspicion of others in society as possible carriers of the disease, in the third phase when more information was available and recovery rates increased was of acceptance and alterness. The fourth stage especially looking at the festival season was a bit of complacency and carelessness, the results of which we are seeing currently,” said Mr. Modi. He asked the State governments to emphasise that while the vaccine may arrive whenever it does, behaviour that would discourage the spread of COVID-19 should be emphasised and insisted upon.

Preparations by CMs

Chief Ministers who spoke during the meeting said they were fully ready to co-ordinate logistics with the Central government on the disbursal of the vaccine as and when it was available, with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray stating that he was in touch with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla on vaccine issues.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said his State had already set up 630 cold chain points, with 80 more to be set up with a capacity of 85,000 litre storage. His State had also put in place 8,192 vaccinators and 27,931 spot workers for the endeavour.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said figures in her State reflected the fact that hers was a border State with patients coming in from Bangladesh and Bhutan and also from other Indian States.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 10:46:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-prepare-for-covid-19-vaccine-distribution-pm-modi-tells-states/article33169576.ece

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