With the State governments directed to take measures to procure Covid 19 vaccines on their own and several of the states still finding t hard to meet the challenges, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took to unifying the non BJP ruled states to demand the Centre to procure the vaccines to ensure free universal vaccination.
Vijayan wrote letter to Chief Ministers of 11 states. In a tweet, Vijayan said “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.” Along with the tweet, he also posted a copy of the letter.
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
Vaccine supply Scarce
In the letter, Vijayan said “it is learnt that the Union Government has taken a stand that the States should resort to their own measures to procure Covid-19 vaccine. The supply of vaccine is scarce when compared to the demand for the same. As we all know, the best way to build herd immunity against Covid-19 pandemic is universal vaccination.”
The Chief Minister also mentioned that he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the merits of the Centre taking the lead in assessing vaccine requirements of the States and floating a global tender taking into account the needs of all States.
Free of cost
“It is also important to note that vaccine should be provided free of cost considering it as a public good, the access to which shall be denied to none due to lack of financial wherewithal. At this juncture, when the nation is passing through the second surge, it is quite unfortunate that there appears to be an attempt by the Centre to absolve itself of its bounden duty to provide adequate supply of vaccine to the States. The impact of the second surge has been unprecedented putting all of us in a state of alarm. Besides, experts have warned that a third surge of Covid-19 incidence is highly likely. This necessitates our heightened preparation and vigil to meet that eventuality too,” he said.
Kerala CM Vijayan pointed out that the fiscal situation of the state’s would be in dire straits if the burden of procuring vaccine is left to fall entirely or even substantially on the States,
“Fiscal strength of the States is an essential part of a healthy federal setup. If the States’ finances are hamstrung, federalism itself will be weakened and this will not augur well for a democratic polity like ours. Further, this will impede the efforts for early building of herd immunity,” he noted.
The Kerala CM in the letter said that only 3-per cent of the people have been administered two doses of Covid-19 vaccine. He also alleged that vaccine manufacturing companies were only engaged in looking for financial gains by exploiting the scarce supply situation. Foreign pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to enter into agreement with the States for procuring vaccine. India has public sector pharmaceutical companies which are capable of taking up the production of vaccine. The Centre should take necessary steps to ensure that intellectual property rights and patent laws and conventions do not stand in the way of manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine, which should have the status of a Public good. Options like compulsory licensing should explored by the Union Government, he said.
“The need of the hour is united effort from our side to put forth the genuine demand that the Centre should procure vaccine needed by the states and distribute them free of cost. This will be more cost effective as well,” Kerala CM Vijayan said in the letter.