Covid vaccination drive will be systematic, sustained: PM Modi
Narendra Modi assured chief ministers of a smooth, systematic and sustained
vaccination drive against Covid-19, adding that safety and speed were crucial.
“Right now, we do not know whether there will be one or two or three doses of the vaccine or the price,” he told them in his closing remarks after meetings with them. “We do not have answers to these questions yet.”
He cited complicating
factors such as diplomatic interests, competition among corporates and waiting
for word from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Modi was responding to
questions by chief ministers on when a vaccine would become available and how
much it would cost.
“Safety is as important as speed for us and it will be ensured that the vaccine for citizens will meet all necessary scientific criteria,” he said. “Just like the focus in the fight against Covid has been on saving each and every life, the priority will be to ensure that the vaccine reaches everyone.” The vaccination of each citizen is a “national commitment,” he said.
He asked chief ministers to prepare more cold storages to store the vaccine once it is ready. He said two domestic vaccine candidates were possible contenders and India was working with global firms as well.
The chief ministers were briefed by Niti Aayog Member VK Paul on the broad framework, in line with WHO standards, for the stage-wise distribution of a vaccine once it’s available, with priority for the high-risk groups like frontline workers, followed by those aged 65 and above and then those below 65 years with comorbidities. Paul said in his presentation that 300 million people were in the provisional priority group for the vaccine.
The Prime Minister said the final criteria would be drawn up in consultation with the chief ministers, calling for teamwork by the states. The views of the chief ministers are being sought in writing.
He assured the chief ministers that the government was keeping a close watch on the development of vaccines and is in contact with Indian developers and manufacturers, along with global regulators, governments of other countries, multilateral institutions and international companies.
He warned that until a
vaccine was available, vigilance should be maintained to keep the disease in
check. “We must ensure that the Covid situation does not worsen and no fresh
trouble arises,” he said. “We have come out of the deep ocean of the pandemic
and are about to reach the shore but it should not be the case, as the saying
goes, that our boat drowned where the water was shallow. Work on the vaccine is
ongoing but there should be no carelessness on the Covid front. Many countries
are seeing a sharp resurgence in the number of cases and that trend is visible
in some of our states too.”
The PM first spoke to the chief ministers of eight such states–Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh—and the rest subsequently. Modi said people had become careless due to the belief that the virus had weakened, leading to the resurgence.
The health ministry
said the situation in Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala and Rajasthan required
Modi also said, in response to an observation from the one of the chief ministers, that some individuals were trying to play politics over the vaccine and he could do little to stop them from doing so on such a health issue. This seemed to be in response to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asking the Prime Minister which vaccine India would choose, what would be its cost and the priority criteria. The Prime Minister also said safety was important in order to ensure there were no adverse reactions. The Prime Minister told the chief ministers that there was the possibility of some having allergic reactions to the vaccine, as was the case with medicines that had been in the market for over two decades. “Hence the decision (on the vaccine) is to be based on scientific basis and through certification by authorities,” he said.
Modi asked chief
ministers to increase the proportion of RT-PCR testing and improve monitoring
of Covid patients in home isolation. He said each state should strive to bring
the test positivity rate below 5% and the fatality rate below 1% besides sharpening
“It is important to
understand how the people have reacted to the pandemic–it can be broken down
to four stages,” he said. “The first was of fear, when people reacted in panic.
The second stage saw cropping up of doubts about the virus, when several people
tried to hide their infection. The third stage was of acceptance, when people
became more serious about the virus and displayed greater alertness.”
The Prime Minister emphasised that it was of the utmost importance to increase awareness about the seriousness of the virus in the present fourth stage. Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Paul made presentations on the Covid situation in the states as well as vaccine delivery, distribution and administration, respectively
Source- economic times