Kerala

Provide COVID-19 vaccine free of cost, CM tells PM

Swab samples being collected from driving licence applicants for COVID-19 test at Ashram Maidan in Kollam on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: C. Sureshkumar

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide a sufficient number of covid-19 vaccines free of cost to the States while expressing concern over certain aspects of the Centre’s new vaccine policy.

In an open letter to Mr. Modi on Tuesday, Mr. Vijayan said the State had requested 50 lakh doses.

However, it had received only 5.5 lakh vials. The scarcity of doses had caused the government to stop mass vaccination camps and on-the-spot registrations.

Mr. Vijayan requested Mr. Modi to allot the balance vaccine doses to Kerala at the earliest.

The Centre should reassure the States that they would not have to compete with open market players to procure vaccine vials for their respective populations, he said.

New policy

As per the Centre’s new policy, “vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Government of India and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to State governments and in the open market.”

Mr. Vijayan said the Centre had asked the States to get the vaccine from manufacturers at a price. However, State governments are weighed down by additional financial commitments precipitated by the pandemic.

Given the present situation, the States required to provide vaccine free to the public. The additional burden of purchasing vaccine would strain State finances further. The economic downturn precipitated by the pandemic persisted, he added.

Affordable price

The Centre should fix an “affordable price” for the vaccine quota allocated to manufacturers to sell in the open market to insulate the public from “unscrupulous players,” Mr. Vijayan said.

It is imperative the Centre provided the vaccines to the States as a “public good, free of cost.”

The Centre’s new vaccine policy states that the government of India would provide free to States. “Instead of having a GOI channel, we need to have a government channel, which will include State governments through whom the vaccine will be distributed,” Mr. Vijayan wrote.

Mr. Vijayan also welcomed the Centre’s decision to make the vaccine available for everyone above 18.

Kerala, like other States, is witnessing a rise in the infection curve as a new wave of the virus sweeps the country, he said.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 5:38:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/provide-covid-19-vaccine-free-of-cost-cm-tells-pm/article34369230.ece

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