LJD leader Shreyams Kumar writes to PM; says govt's vaccine policy will be 'counter-productive'

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New Delhi, Apr 23 (PTI) Rajya Sabha member and LJD leader M V Shreyams Kumar on Friday flagged concerns about the central government's vaccine policy, saying it will not only be 'counter-productive' but also result in vaccine makers playing with the dynamics of the existing limited supply of vaccines.

Kumar, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals & Fertilizers, has raised the concerns in a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi wherein he has also termed the central government's decision to make vaccine available to everyone above the age of 18 years a 'welcome step'.

Earlier this week, the Centre said vaccine manufacturers will be free to supply 50 per cent of their doses to state governments and in the open market, while the remaining 50 per cent will be supplied to the central government.

Referring to the new vaccine policy, Kumar said it 'will not only be counter-productive but also will result in vaccine manufacturers playing with the dynamics of the existing limited supply of vaccines.' Further, the member said Kerala was facing an acute shortage of vaccines.

'As against the requirement of 50 lakh doses, we have received only 5.50 lakh doses i.e. just 11 per cent due to which Kerala is forced to stop registration and unable to implement the vaccination plan,' he noted.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already written to the prime minister seeking immediate release of 50 lakh doses of vaccines.

'This being the situation, the Centre's decision to make state governments procure directly from the vaccine manufacturers has come as a bolt from the blue,' Kumar pointed out.

According to him, the government has forgotten that it is the constitutional obligation of the state to provide vaccines free of cost.

Kumar is a Rajya Sabha member of Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) from Kerala. PTI RAM ANU ANU