State asks Centre to provide 3 cr doses of vaccine immediately
Kolkata: The state government on Thursday wrote to the Centre urging it to supply three crore doses of vaccine to be administered to the people from May 1.
It has sought around two crore doses which would eventually be administered on one crore people in the government hospitals as the state is set to launch the massive vaccination drive among those in the age bracket of 18-45 from May 1. The rest one crore doses will be administered to 50 lakh people in the private health establishments. The state government would procure these doses from the Centre. The state had earlier assured private hospitals that one lakh doses will be given to them for the second jab.
Incidentally, private hospitals from the city have already requested the state government to be the nodal agency for the massive immunisation drive to begin next month so that they can receive a steady supply from the government. Vaccination in private hospitals has become uncertain after the Centre brought in a new regulation stating that the private hospitals have to procure directly from the manufacturers.
In Thursday's letter, the state government mentioned that they are ready to buy three crore doses in phase I and more requisitions will follow in the next phases. It was also categorically stated that the Centre should continue to send free doses for the current vaccination drive among the people above 45.
Some doctors and top officials from private hospitals have already termed the Centre's policy 'a directionless one' as it discriminates between the Centre, state and the private hospitals as far as the price of the vaccine is concerned. "Differential price mechanism is unfair. How would we conduct the vaccination drive without the help of the state government when the manufacturing companies are not able to give any assurance," a senior official of a top private hospital said.
A section of health officials is, however, unsure whether the Centre would be able to supply the requirements of the state as the production of vaccine is pitiably low in the country. There will be a huge demand in Bengal once the vaccination opens to the people above 18, the official added. Bengal has already vaccinated around 1,07,75,481 out of which around 86,378 people received both doses. On Thursday, around 1,33,135 people were vaccinated across the state. Around 27,608 people took the first dose and 69,462 took the second shot.
The rate of new infections continues to climb with 17,403 fresh cases detected across the state on Thursday, which is the highest in a single day since the pandemic broke out. Around 89 fatalities were reported in the past 24 hours. On April 1, the number of fresh cases stood at 1,274 and fatalities were only two. Kolkata, on Thursday, reported 3,901 new cases and 23 deaths while North 24-Parganas registered 3,912 cases and 21 deaths. The discharge rate was also the highest on Thursday as a total of 12,885 people were released from different hospitals.
Meanwhile, the state Health Secretary wrote to the Director-General of Police and Commissioner of the Kolkata Police requesting them to ensure that there is no chaos at the vaccination centres. "The crowds at vaccination centres are bulging every day and the peaceful ambience is turning tense. Even untoward incidents began to be reported from Kolkata and from the districts as well," reads the letter.