Karnataka is ready with a plan to administer the coronavirus vaccine whenever the central government gets an approval, state Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday after an all-states' meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"We told the Prime Minister's Office that Karnataka has good manufacturing and health infrastructure… We will ensure the vaccine reaches the needy," Mr Bommai said after attending PM Modi's virtual meeting with Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors of all states to discuss a collective action plan for speedy clearances and procurement for early rollout of a vaccination drive.
Priority is healthcare workers, then people above 50 years of age and then those with co-morbidities, the health minister said.
"Right now, there is no exact date for inoculation," he said, adding that India will have to first get an approval for its chosen vaccine candidate.
"Throughout the world, the vaccine trials are in the advanced stage, the clinical stage. Once that is done, there is a regulatory authority that has to approve it. After that, nations can start vaccinating," Mr Bommai said.
Last week, PM Modi had directed states to check their preparedness for COVID-19 vaccine delivery, distribution and administration as Serum Institute of India promised 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine by January.
India is gearing up to start inoculating its 1.3 billion-strong population against COVID-19 that has affected more than 91.7 lakh people in the country and 5.6 crore people globally. The highly infectious virus has forced people indoors upending life and economies.
However, it would take a long time for the vaccine to reach the common man.
The Prime Minister has thus repeatedly requested people to consider "masks as vaccine" and follow social distancing.
Seeking state's cooperation in fighting the virus together, PM Modi, on Tuesday, reiterated that the positivity rate in each state must be brought down to under 5 per cent and the fatality rate should be under 1 per cent.
"The coronavirus situation in Karnataka is coming under control to a large extent. We have conducted more than 1 crore RT-PCR tests till now. Our mortality rate has been below 1 per cent in the last 15 days, and positivity rate is also coming down," Mr Bommai said.
After the meeting, Chief Minister BS Yeddiyurappa tweeted: "Participated in the Video Conference today chaired by PM Narendra Modi on Covid19 management. Discussed the state's plan for vaccine administration and assured Karnataka is fully equipped for a smooth roll-out of the vaccine as and when it's ready."
Participated in the Video Conference today chaired by PM Shri @narendramodi Ji on Covid19 management. Discussed the state's plan for vaccine administration and assured Karnataka is fully equipped for a smooth roll-out of the vaccine as and when it's ready.@AmitShah@PMOIndiapic.twitter.com/XpsRuQkyQD— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) November 24, 2020
Karnataka is India's second worst-hit state in terms of absolute numbers with 8.7 lakh total cases and 11,678 deaths so far.