- Mr Patnaik said procuring vaccines centrally is the best way to do it.
- However, the vaccination programme has to be decentralised, he said.
- He recommended all states to form consensus on his appeal.
The best way to "protect our people against future waves" of COVID-19 is to centrally procure the vaccines and decentralise the execution of the inoculation drive, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said on Wednesday. In a letter written to his counterparts across the country, he referred to the unabated pandemic as perhaps the greatest challenge faced by the nation since the freedom struggle.
He recommended that all states come together to form consensus on the matter in the "true spirit of cooperative federalism" to save lives and livelihoods.
"No state is safe unless all the states adopt vaccination as the top most priority and execute it on war-footing. But this cannot be a battle among the states to compete against each other to procure vaccines," Mr Patnaik said in his letter, referring to phase 3 of the Union government's vaccine policy.
This latest version of the drive allows vaccination of all those above 18 years of age and lets states and private hospitals procure doses. Many states have, since, floated global tenders for supplies meant for those in the 18-45 years age bracket.
"However, it is quite clear that the global vaccine manufacturers are looking forward to the Union Government for the clearances and assurances. They are unwilling to get into supply contract with the state governments. While the domestic vaccine manufacturers are having supply constraints and are not able to commit required supplies," The Odisha Chief Minister said.
"Under the circumstances, the best option available is for the Government of India to centrally procure the vaccines and distribute it among the States. At the same time, the execution of the vaccination programme has to be decentralised and states allowed the flexibility to determine their own mechanisms."
Mr Patnaik's letter comes days after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to 11 of his non-BJP counterparts, seeking a united effort to press the Centre to procure COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring free universal vaccination.
Wrote to 11 CMs in the spirit of Cooperative Federalism. Quite unfortunate that Centre absolves itself of its duty to procure vaccines, ensure free universal vaccination. United effort to jointly pursue our genuine demand is the need of the hour, so that Centre acts immediately. pic.twitter.com/ILvEFYSpRu— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) May 31, 2021
The Odisha Chief Minister also called up some of these leaders to discuss the issue. His message has already resonated with some of them.
For instance, West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, involved in a major tussle with the Centre, today said she agrees with him and other Chief Ministers with similar views.
"Centre must give the vaccines to the state and they must procure the vaccine for the state government. And they must give it free of cost to every state to cover the entire Indian population. On this myself, Naveen Patnaik, Kerala Chief Minister, and Arvind, everyone is together," Ms Banerjee said today during a press meet.