The Central Government on Monday announced all Indian citizens above the age of 18 are eligible to take COVID jabs from May 1. The Centre also allowed states to directly procure vaccine doses from manufacturers.
Vaccine manufacturers have been asked to supply 50 per cent of their stock to the Centre, and split the rest 50 per cent between state governments and the open market.
The decision for “liberalised and accelerated” Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccination drive from May 1 was announced after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings over a sudden surge in Corona cases. With Covid-19 cases rising at an alarming speed and hospital beds, oxygen supply and medicines in short supply, the government was under tremendous pressure to open up vaccination and allow states access to medical essentials.
India on Monday reported more than 2 lakh positive cases for six straight days and 1, 619 deaths.
The government will allow the imported ready-to-use vaccines to be utilised in the private sector and state facilities. Centre, from its share, will allocate vaccines to states/UTs based on the criteria of the extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) and performance (speed of administration).
Incidentally, this move comes a day after former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to PM Modi urging him to ramp up vaccination efforts and let states decide priorities for age groups. Singh was himself admitted to New Delhi AIIMS on Monday after testing positive for Covid-19. However, the letter written by Dr Singh was not received by the government in the same spirit of "constructive cooperation".
Facing severe criticism for its poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for preferring elections and Kumbh Mela over public health, the Union government on Monday went into a huddle to find ways to wriggle out of this politically volatile situation.