Free Covid vaccine for all adults in Delhi from May 1: Kejriwal
Delhi will provide free Covid-19 vaccines for all adults in the National Capital from May 1, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday. He also urged vaccine manufacturers in the country to reduce their prices, even as he, once again, pushed the Centre to consider a “one nation, one rate” policy for Covid-19 vaccines.
The chief minister’s office stated that the free vaccines will be available in all government-run Covid-19 vaccination centres in Delhi while those who opt for private centres will have to pay for the jabs.
Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said his government had, on the same day, approved procurement of 1.34 crore [13.4 million] vaccine doses with various manufacturers to boost a massive vaccination drive. The announcement came ahead of the third phase of India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive from May 1. In this phase, the Central government has allowed vaccination for all citizens above the age of 18 years. Registrations for vaccination are going to open on the CoWin app from Wednesday.
“As we are seeing, Covid-19 has wreaked havoc in the country. There is only one solution to this pandemic and that is vaccination. Delhi government has decided to give free Covid-19 vaccines to those who are 18 and above,” Kejriwal said.
While he did not specifically say that the third phase of the vaccination drive will be rolled out on a massive scale from May 1 itself, the chief minister, however, did say that the government is drafting its vaccination plan on how registered adults can be inoculated on a rapid scale and in large numbers.
“Today morning, we have given approval to buy 1.34 crore [13.4 million] vaccines for Delhi. We are trying to procure these doses as soon as possible so people are vaccinated quickly. It has been found that those who have taken the jabs either do not get Covid-19 or have very mild symptoms upon contracting the infection. Mostly those who get Covid-19 even after vaccination do not require hospitalisation, and even if some of them do get admitted, their condition does not become serious. If everyone gets vaccinated, Corona will be like an ordinary disease,” Kejriwal said. He gave the example of how the United Kingdom controlled its surge in Covid-19 cases by conducting mass vaccination.
The Delhi chief minister, once again, flagged his demand for uniform rates for the Central and state governments in vaccine procurement. “One of the vaccine manufacturers is offering a rate of ₹400 a dose to state governments, while the other is quoting ₹600. But both the companies are offering their vaccine at ₹150 to the Central government. My demand is that the rates should be the same for state and central governments,” he said.
Kejriwal said the manufacturers are earning a lot of profit by selling their vaccines at ₹400 and ₹600 to states. “This is the time to show humanity. This is not the time to earn profits. Across the country, the Centre and states have capped the prices of various medicines and treatments. I appeal to the vaccine manufacturers to reduce their prices to ₹150. You (manufacturers) have a lifetime to earn profits. This is not the time to earn profits from people when the pandemic has hit the country so hard. I also appeal to the Central government to cap the prices of vaccines in the coming days,” he said.
He also urged the Central government to consider a vaccination plan for children. “We have seen that a lot of children and adolescents are also getting infected by Covid-19, and some of them have died. So, the time has come to think of them as well. If the available vaccines are safe for them, the Centre should allow it for them. If they are not safe, then other vaccines should also be developed,” Kejriwal said.
The chief minister said beds are being increased further in Delhi to treat Covid-19 patients. “I inspected the Covid care centre at Radha Soami Satsang Beas campus in Chhattarpur which has been opened for patients today from 10am. It has started with 500 beds, which will be increased by another 500 in about two days, then 2,000 and finally, it will be ramped up to 5,000 beds. In addition, we are also arranging 200 ICU beds there. We are increasing Covid-19 beds across Delhi this way. I hope this will help people in this crisis,” he said.