State to buy one crore doses of vaccine

₹483 crore needed for vaccine purchase, Cabinet against lockdown in State

The State will purchase one-crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines directly from two manufacturers to make it available for those in the 18-45 age group.

A Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Wednesday took the decision hours before the online registration for those in the 18-45 age group began.

The vaccines will cost the State ₹483 crore. Of the one-crore doses, 70 lakh doses will be Covishield from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India and the remaining Covaxin from the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. The first 10-lakh doses will be purchased next week and the entire purchase will be completed by July.

The Cabinet decision is based on a report of a committee led by Chief Secretary V.P. Joy. Additional Chief Secretary, Finance, Rajesh Kumar Singh and Principal Secretary, Health, Rajan Khobragade were the members.

The State will have to pay ₹294 crore for the 70 lakh doses of Covishield, with each dose costing ₹400 and 5% GST and another ₹189 crore for the 30 lakh doses of Covaxin with each dose costing ₹600, including GST.

“The direct purchase will be subject to the verdicts in the petitions in the High Court and Supreme Court,’’ the Chief Minister told the media.

Vaccination policy

“The pricing of the vaccine is inappropriate. They are giving it to the Centre for ₹150 a dose. We have asked them to change the policy and make it available free-of-cost. There is no response from the Centre,” he said.

To a question, the Chief Minister said the government will not shy away from the responsibility and two doses will be given free for all in the 18-45 age group.

Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac had told The Hindu on Sunday that the State Treasury has a cash balance of ₹3,000 crore to purchase vaccines directly.

On the hassles faced in vaccination for those in the 45 years and above, Mr. Vijayan said the State did not have adequate vaccines in stock for them. “Vaccination is based on the availability of vaccines provided by Centre,” he said.

No lockdown

The Cabinet has also decided not to go by the Union Health Ministry’s directive to impose lockdown in districts having test positivity rate (TPR) above 15%. If the Centre approved the proposal, lockdown would have to be implemented in 12 districts, except Pathanamthitta and Kollam. “Lockdown is the last measure before us to contain the pandemic. Now, we will go for stringent measures,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article