Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Wednesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding necessary steps to be taken to ensure the availability of COVID vaccine in the state in an accessible manner and in sufficient quantity.
Chief Minister mentioned in the letter that the state has decided to provide free COVID vaccination to every one of the proposed age of 18 years and above, from May 1. We have also ordered 25-25 lakh doses of the vaccines from Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.
According to an estimate, about 1 crore 30 lakh people out of the 2 crores 90 lakh population of Chhattisgarh are in the age group of 18-44 years, and a total of 2 crores 60 lakh doses would be required for their vaccination. So far, 72 per cent of the 58.7 lakh people of age 45 and above have been vaccinated.
"Including the frontline workers, more than 48 lakh people have been given the first dose of the vaccine, and a total of 6 lakh 34 thousand people have been the second dose of the COVID vaccine. In this way, more than 54 lakh people have received doses of the vaccine," the letter read.
"In Chhattisgarh, we have the capacity to provide 3 lakh doses of the vaccine every day. Because we intend to make an ideal arrangement for vaccination in Chhattisgarh, we have written letters to Prime Minister Office, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harshvardhan, Serum Institute, and Bharat Biotech regarding the crucial information about vaccine availability, cost," the letter read further.
Chief Minister wrote, "So far, only Bharat Biotech has informed us via e-mail that the 25 lakh doses of vaccine ordered by the State Government would be delivered by July 2021. Bharat Biotech has asked for a time duration of three months to deliver only 25 lakh doses, which indicates that it would take an entire year to receive the required quantity of vaccine doses for the state, which would defeat the cause of vaccination."
Chief Minister has requested PM Modi that the State governments should be made aware of the action plan created by the Central government for vaccination of people of age 18 years and above from May 1. States should be informed about the strategy for the implementation of this action plan. Also, the allocation of vaccine doses to the states should be done based on the population and positivity ratio, active patient ratio, so that the vaccination drive could be commenced simultaneously across the country.
Mr Baghel stated in the letter that the Centre has given assurance regarding the prices of the vaccine. We request you to implement the "One Vaccine One Price policy", so that developing states like Chhattisgarh may utilize their resources on the other aspects of the COVID crisis management.
Chief Minister mentioned in the letter that since the COVID vaccine has emerged as a life-saver today, all the taxes imposed on this vaccine should be removed so as to make it available at the lowest prices.
Baghel has also stated that to vaccinate people of age 18 years and above across the country, nearly 150-200 million vaccine doses will be required. However, the vaccine manufacturing capacity of Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute is appearing to be far too low. Hence, they would not be able to meet the requirement at a quick pace. Central Government should demonstrate its willpower regarding COVID vaccination and make arrangements with other companies to get the required quantity of vaccine doses manufactured on time. Delay in providing the vaccine would make the entire nationwide vaccination drive futile.
Chief Minister has also assured in the letter that Chhattisgarh will fight shoulder to shoulder with the Central government and win the battle against COVID-19 together.