Onus on Centre to help State: CM

Kerala will have to find additional resources of ₹1,300 crore to provide COVID-19 vaccines free of cost to everyone if the Centre does not make sufficient vaccine stocks available to the State, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Friday.

The estimate of ₹1,300 crore is the financial commitment that will be required of the State, going by the open market rate of ₹400 per vaccine dose, which has been disclosed by the Serum Institute of India.

Mr. Vijayan said, during a videoconference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, he explained that finding such huge resources would put a severe burden on the State which had already been spending crores on preparing the health system to fight COVID-19. The State reiterated its requirement of 50 lakh doses of vaccine immediately to cover the 45-plus age group.

Kerala welcomed the Centre’s policy of opening up COVID-19 vaccination for all above 18 years from May 1. However, leaving the States to fend for themselves as far as vaccines were concerned would be difficult.

“Vaccines are the only tool available with the humanity now to fight the pandemic but the Centre’s vaccine policy will not only add to the State’s financial burden but also will lead to unhealthy competition between States to secure vaccine from the open market in sufficient quantities.”

The State was awaiting the Centre’s response to its demand for free vaccine supply. But meanwhile, it was forced to open negotiations with vaccine manufacturers because it could not afford to wait till it was too late to procure it from the open market.

Kerala had so far delivered 55.9 lakh first doses. Another 8.37 lakh people were covered with two vaccine doses. It had to cover a population of 1.13 crore above 45 years of age and, hence, the State’s demand for 50 lakh doses was only fair. The State’s remaining stock of just 4 lakh doses would be just enough for two days, he said.

Crushing the curve

Kerala was adopting a three-pronged strategy to crush the epidemic curve, which involved mass testing to pick up as many infectious people from the community, preparing adequate facilities for patient care, stringent regulations on civic life to check disease transmission, and vaccinating as many people as possible to move towards herd immunity.

Mr. Vijayan appealed to the people to test themselves for COVID as soon as they see the slightest of symptoms and not to waste time imagining it to be a flu or viral fever. Early testing and isolation would reduce the chances of the virus spreading to more people.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 4:38:39 AM |

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