Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to highlight a severe shortfall in vaccine supply, and highlight financial constraints in the centre’s proposal to allow states to buy some doses from manufacturers at a “pre-agreed price”.
Mr Vijayan said Kerala – which has over 1.03 lakh active cases and nearly 5,000 virus-linked deaths – received only 5.5 lakh of the 50 lakh doses it had requested, and with more and more new cases reported every day – had been “constrained to stop on-the-spot registration” at its vaccination centres.
“… would like to bring to your notice that we had requested for 50 lakh doses to implement our vaccination plan. We have received only 5.5 lakh doses, due to which we have been constrained… affecting our effort to deal with the rapid surge,” Mr Vijayan said in his letter.
“I request you to allot the balance vaccine doses at the earliest,” he added.
Maximum vaccination is required to crush 2nd wave of #COVID19. Requested @PMOIndia to reconsider new policy on vaccine distribution so that availability is assured & no additional financial burden is incurred, enabling States to perform constitutional obligation in health sector. pic.twitter.com/sEE6dpGzpE
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 20, 2021
Last week Mr Vijayan issued another appeal, warning the centre that vaccine stocks would run out in less than 72 hours, and that at least 50 lakh more doses were needed.
On Monday the centre widened the vaccine net to include all those over 18.
This new phase will begin from May 1, but vaccine stocks are already in short supply and manufacturers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech are still in the process of increasing production.
In his letter today the Chief Minister also referred to the centre’s decision to allow states to buy vaccines from manufacturers; the centre had said manufacturers could sell up to half their supply.
He said states continued to face “additional financial commitments (due to the) pandemic” and hesitated at having to purchase the vaccines at potentially much higher prices than the centre.
“… State governments have obligation in the health sector and need an assured quota of vaccines… ,” he wrote, asking for reassurances that they would not “be left to compete with open-market players…”
Mr Vijayan called for a government channel of vaccine distribution – from centre to states – and asked that producers be given a fixed price “so unscrupulous players do not exploit the public”.
This morning India reported 1,761 deaths in 24 hours – the most in a day since December 2019. There were also over 2.5 lakh new cases – the fourteenth straight day with over one lakh.
The active caseload is now over 20 lakh – a record high.