Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], April 28 (ANI): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday announced that the state government will order 1 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses while calling for a change in the new vaccination policy and pricing.
Briefing the mediapersons, the chief minister said, "The cabinet meeting held today has decided to give free vaccination to those in the 18-45 age group. As per the recommendation of the expert committee headed by the Chief Secretary, the government will buy 1 crore vaccine doses for the next three months (May to July). 70 lakh doses of Covishield will be procured from Serum Institute at a cost of Rs 294 crores and 30 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech at Rs 189 crores. The price of the vaccine will be subject to revision based on court orders if any."
He further said, "The goal of the state government is to ensure free vaccination for all. As a result of the new vaccination policy of the central government, states have to buy vaccines from manufacturers. We have already asked the Centre to change this policy and provide free vaccines to all but so far; no positive action has been taken."
"The central government has given permission to two vaccine manufacturers in the country to charge different prices from the central government and the states. This policy should also be amended. The Centre should ensure that the states get the vaccine at the same price as the Centre," added Vijayan.
He also raised his concerns regarding that the surge in COVID-19 cases. The chief minister said the test positivity rate has increased drastically in some districts and taluks. It is as high as 50 per cent in some places in the state.
"Today's review meeting has decided to enforce more restrictions but a full lockdown will be considered only as a last resort. The government will ensure the availability of medical oxygen. Kasargod is facing difficulties in sourcing oxygen from Karnataka. This has been brought to the notice of the Karnataka Chief Secretary as this is happening even as Kerala is supplying oxygen from Palakkad to Karnataka," stated the chief minister.
"The stock of liquefied medical oxygen is now adequate for the needs of the state but our demand is likely to increase significantly due to the extreme spread of COVID. Therefore, the cabinet has decided to give only surplus medical oxygen to others. It was also decided to inform the government of its position in the pending cases in the Supreme Court and the High Court," he added.
According to Kerala Government, the availability of ventilators, ICU beds and other beds in public and private hospitals in each district will be updated every four hours to ensure better utilisation of facilities.
Kerala reported 35,013 new COVID-19 cases and 41 deaths on Wednesday, informed the chief minister. The COVID test positivity rate remained at 25.34 per cent on Wednesday. Presently, there are 2,66,646 patients undergoing treatment for the disease in the state.
The Centre on April 19 had announced a ''liberalised'' policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also allowed state governments and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers.
Registration for the new eligible population groups has commenced from 4 pm on Wednesday. Potential beneficiaries can either register directly on Co-WIN portal (cowin.gov.in) or through the Aarogya Setu app. (ANI)