Allow states to have their own apps for vaccine registration: Maha CM

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(Eds: Adding quotes) Mumbai, Apr 30 (PTI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday demanded that every state be allowed to developits own app for the registration of people for COVID- 19 vaccination.

He also defended the existing lockdown-like restrictions in Maharashtra, saying in their absence, active cases would have touched 10 lakh.

In a televised address on the eve of the state's foundation day, he said the vaccination drive for those in the 18-44 age group will start from Saturday.

Currently, people have to register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine jab through the Co-WIN app of the Centre.

'All states should be allowed to develop their own apps for registration....the state apps can be linked to the main Co-WIN app and this will help streamline the registration process and stop crowding at vaccination centres,' Thackeray said.

He has made this demand in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he added.

'The Co-WIN app had crashed yesterday (as registration for those above 18 began),' Thackeray pointed out.

The state government was all geared up to vaccinate the 18-44 years age group, which numbers around six crore, from Saturday, he said.

'We will need 12 crore doses for this category and we are ready to make one-time payment by cheque to procure them.

Today we have got three lakh doses,' the chief minister said.

'We are talking to the Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and also the manufacturer of Russian vaccine Sputnik. We have been told by the Centre that we will get 18 lakh vaccines in Mayfor the 18-44 group out of which three lakh doses have been received,' he said.

Vaccine doses for the 18-44 age group will be administered as per availability and people should not crowd vaccination centres, he said.

'Register and then go to take the vaccine, otherwise I fear the centres may become COVID-spreaders,' he said.

His government had prepared for a second wave of the pandemic but did not realise it would be so ferocious, Thackeray said.

'We are gearing up to tackle a third wave which is expected in June-July,' he said.

So far 1.58 crore persons in the above-45 years age group have been vaccinated, he said.

The chief minister lamented that though Maharashtra leads in the number of tests and vaccination and has the best health infrastructure, it also has the highest number of positive cases.

He defended the latest lockdown-like curbs, saying they helped stabilise the number of cases.

'If not for the curbs, the number of active cases would have been nine to ten lakh. Due to the curbs, the active cases have stabilised at 6.5 lakh,' Thackeray said.

A Rs 5,500 crore package to provide relief to the poor sections of society in view of the curbs will be implemented, the CM said.

'Complete lockdown may be necessary but I don't think that situation will arise,' he said.

The government was upgrading oxygen plants and procuring medicine stocks to tackle a third wave, he said. PTI MR VT KRK KRK