Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday wrote to all his non-BJP counterparts asking them to come together and put up a joint effort to get vaccines from the union government. The letter has been sent to 11 chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi and Punjab.
. “It is important that vaccine should be provided free of cost considering it as a public good, the access to which shall be denied to none due to lack of financial wherewithal,” his letter said. He said if the burden on vaccines is left entirely on states their fiscal situation will be affected.
His letter assumes much significance in the light of the Supreme Court’s latest observation that there should be only one price for Covid-19 vaccines across the nation. Earlier, the Centre had proposed a three-tier price structure for vaccines.
“It is learnt that the union government has taken a stand that the states should resort to their own measures to procure vaccines. The supply of the vaccines is scarce as compared to the demand for the same,” he said asking all his counterparts to jointly pursue the need of the hour. He said vaccine manufacturers were unwilling to enter into an agreement with states for procurement and that herd immunity will be effective only if a substantial chunk of the population is vaccinated.
Vijayan also pointed out that the state had placed order for 10 million vaccines last month but it received only 8, 84,000 doses. After assuming power for the second time as chief minister he had sent at least four letters to PM Narendra Modi seeking more vaccines and oxygen.
“When the nation is passing through the second surge, it is unfortunate the Centre is absolving itself of its bounder duty to provide adequate supply of vaccine. The impact of the second surge has been unprecedented, putting all of us in a state of alarm. Experts have warned about a third wave also. This necessitates our heightened preparation and vigil to meet that eventuality too,” he reminded his counterparts.
Earlier, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh had written to the Prime Minister Modi requesting him to ensure that the Centre procures vaccines for all age groups and distribute it to the states. “We can pay the Centre for vaccination of 18-45 age group. But, instead of each state buying vaccines, the Centre should buy vaccines centrally and give to all states,” Gehlot had said in a letter to PM last week.