Kerala assembly resolution also asks the Centre to invoke compulsory licensing provisions to enable manufacturing of vaccines by the public sector pharmaceutical companies to ramp up supply.
PUBLISHED ON JUN 02, 2021 03:26 PM IST
The Kerala assembly on Wednesday passed a unanimous resolution urging the Centre to provide free Covid-19 vaccines to all states and ensure its easy availability. State health minister Veena George moved the resolution which was supported by opposition members after certain amendments.
“To fight the pandemic we need to provide free universal vaccination which will ensure that all sections of the society are protected from the virus. The Union government can’t shirk its responsibility and leave everything to states. It has to ensure vaccination in a time-bound manner,” said the resolution.
The resolution is in line with chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s attempt to get 11 chief ministers of non-BJP governments to form a pressure group to ask Centre to fund the vaccination drive as a measure for public good, citing limited financial resources available to states. Several opposition-ruled states have questioned Centre’s decision to let states separately buy Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturers for the third phase of the drive. States have also cited poor supply of vaccines and their differential pricing as major problem areas.
The resolution therefore asks the Union government to invoke compulsory licensing provisions to enable manufacturing of vaccines by the public sector pharmaceutical companies to ramp up supply. It said vaccination was an effective tool to achieve herd immunity against the raging disease.
Though the opposition parties in Kerala said the state was deliberately underreporting Covid-19 deaths, triggering a war of words between health minister Veena George and leader of the opposition V D Satheesan. The minister said the state government was following the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and didn’t attempt to lower the death rate. Satheesan too relied on ICMR norms and statistics to counter the minister. Kerala logged 19,760 new Covid-19 cases and 194 deaths on Tuesday, taking the total caseload to over 2.516 million and the death toll to 9,009.
In a related development on Wednesday, the state told Kerala high court differential pricing of Covid vaccines for Centre and states was ‘encouraging’ its black marketing, as per a news agency report. The government argued that the rates must be fixed based on the cost of production and private vaccine makers shouldn’t be allowed to charge exorbitant prices taking advantage of the pandemic.