Centre must procure vaccines, Pinarayi writes to 11 CMs

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has attempted to enlist the support of his counterparts in 11 States to jointly persuade the Centre to procure and supply COVID-19 vaccines free of cost.

Mr. Vijayan tweeted: “Wrote to 11 CMs in the spirit of cooperative federalism. Quite unfortunate the Centre absolves itself of its duty to procure vaccines, ensure free universal vaccination. United effort to jointly pursue our genuine demand is the need of the hour so that the Centre acts immediately.”

In his letter dated May 29, Mr. Vijayan said the Union government had taken a stance that States should resort to their own measures to procure the COVID-19 vaccine. He pointed out that it was the bounden duty of the Centre to provide adequate doses to the States.

Mr. Vijayan said foreign pharmaceutical companies were unwilling to enter into an agreement with the States for supplying vaccines. They sought to exploit the scarce supply situation for financial gain.

India's public sector pharmaceutical companies should take up vaccine production to address the mismatch between demand and supply. The Central government should ensure that intellectual property rights and patent laws did not impede vaccine production, he said.

Mr. Vijayan said the Central government’s bid to place the entire onus of procuring vaccines on States defied the very basis of cooperative federalism. “The need of the hour is a united effort from our side to put forth the genuine demand that the Centre should procure vaccine needed by the States and distribute them free of cost. This will be more cost-effective as well,” Mr. Vijayan said in his letter.

Universal vaccination was the surefire method to build herd immunity. Mr Vijayan said he had written to the Prime Minister earlier spelling out the merits of the Centre taking the lead in assessing the vaccine requirements of the States. The Centre could then float a global tender for dosages as per the States’ need, he said.

(He said he had enclosed a copy of his letter to the Prime Minister in his communication to his equivalents in other States.)

Mr. Vijayan also said vaccination should be free to ensure that none shall be denied the protection ‘due to lack of financial wherewithal.’

The unprecedented ‘impact of the second surge’ had caused alarm. Experts have warned of a third surge—the country required to prepare for such an eventuality, he said.

The States would face a dire fiscal situation if the Centre asked them to shoulder the entire financial burden of procuring vaccines.

“Fiscal strength of the States is an essential part of a healthy federal set up. If the State’s finances are hamstrung, federalism itself will be weakened, and this will not augur well for a democratic polity like ours. Further, this will impede the efforts for early building of herd immunity,” Mr. Vijayan said.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 6:22:35 AM |

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