Hitting out at opposition-ruled states for dilatory pace of vaccination and high wastage, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the Centre may consider the proposal for centralised procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
As per a report in Economic Times, Miss Sitharaman was quoted saying, “We may examine central procurement,”. Most opposition-ruled states have now urged the Centre to procure vaccines even after seeking more flexibility in vaccination, as their global bids for supplies did not really receive any serious response.
A few days ago, Odisha health minister Naba Kisore Das wrote to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan to press for central procurement. The minister's demand was backed by Kerala, Jharkhand and few other states.
In current year's (2021-22) budget, Rs 35,000 crore has been allotted for vaccination said Nirmala Sitharaman adding more funds can be provided if need be.
Notbaly, the Supreme Court has also suggested that the central government procure vaccines at a negotiated price. According to government data, as of June 6, states have received 246 million doses of vaccines and at present have around 16.3 million doses with them.
On April 19, the Centre had announced a ‘liberalised and accelerated’ Phase 3 vaccination policy, which allowed vaccination for everyone over the age of 18 years beginning May 1.
As per the policy, 50 percent of the total domestic production of vaccines would go to the Centre for the vaccination of people over 45 years of age while 25 percent to states for vaccinating the 18-44 years age group and the balance 25 percent to the private sector. States are also free to procure approved vaccines from global suppliers however vaccination for the 18-44 group has been slow because of lack of supplies.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) Dr Harsh Vardhan chaired the 28th meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Monday and said that India has 14,01,609 active Covid cases. He added that the country's recovery rate is climbing and stood at 93.94 per cent now.
He said that a total of 23,27,86,482 vaccine doses have been administered to various categories of people in the country. "Between 18- 44 years of age, we have given the 1st dose to 2,86,18,514 peopleand second dose to 1,68,00,302 people. As of today morning, 1,43,01,409 doses are still available with the states. 36.64 crore tests have been done in the country.