Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan urges PM Modi to make Covid-19 vaccines free
With Kerala reporting another sharp spike of 28,447 Covid-19 cases, the highest since the outbreak began last year, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tweak the proposed vaccine policy and ensure free doses to the overburdened state.
Talking to the media in the state capital the CM said in the virtual meeting chaired by the PM he appraised him about the shortage of vaccines and told him that the new policy will put extra burden on the state which is already reeling under the impact of the pandemic. He expressed hope that the Union government would take a proactive decision on this soon.
“In India major vaccines were distributed free of cost. When the country is going through a difficult situation it is not proper to impose a fee on vaccines. Three-level price mechanism is really intriguing. Hope the PM will realise this and will do a rethink,” the CM said adding most of the states expressed similar views in the meeting. He said the state needs ₹1300 crore to meet the vaccine bill if the Centre insists on charges for the vaccines.
Vijayan said the state can’t wait interminably for doses and it will chalk out a plan to buy directly from the market. “For herd immunity vaccination is important. We want to carry it out as quickly as possible to contain the surge. In the state only 11 per cent people were exposed to the virus so we have to act fast,” the CM said adding despite mounting cases the state has maintained the lowest case fatality rate, 0.39 per cent in the country.
The CM lauded people for contributing to the CM’s relief fund to foot expenses of the vaccine. “It is really heart-warming. On Friday also we received more than ₹one crore towards this. This shows the spirit of the people. We will make a separate fund for this and use it only for vaccines,” he said.
He said the second wave in Kerala was critical and the government will do everything possible to save lives. “It is more than what we expected. There is no short cut but people will have to go by the restrictions. If we work in unison we can overcome this like last year,” he said adding the weekend restrictions will be on the lines of lockdown. The government has also called an all-party meet on Monday. He said a decision on further restrictions will be taken after the all-party meet.
The state has hit another high reporting 28,477 cases on Friday with a test positivity rate of 21.78 per cent. With 27 fatalities, the death toll went up to 5055. Ernakulam district topped the list with 4548 cases. The active caseload also went up to 1,78,983. The first coronavirus case was reported in the country in Kerala in January 2020, when a medical student in China returned to Thrissur.