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Kerala gears to expand vaccine coverage: CM

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on April 23, 2021

Seeks Centre’s help for ‘Crush the Curve’ campaign

Kerala believes achieving herd immunity fast is the best bet to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. It plans to expand vaccination rapidly from May 1 when all those over 18 become eligible to receive the vaccine. The move comes even as the test positivity rate breached 20 per cent for the first time and the cumulative daily toll of infections exceeded 5,000 on Friday.

The State government has also appointed an expert committee to draw up guidelines for administration of the vaccines to an estimated 1.65 crore individuals in the 18–45-year age group and an online registration facility will open soon.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons here, herd immunity can be acquired nationally if vaccine is provided free of cost to the States. The State government is keen to avoid a complete lockdown through strict compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols and restricting public activity to the minimum.

Conveys concerns to PM

The Chief Minister said that he has conveyed to the Prime Minister the State’s concerns over vaccine shortage and pricing which is a real challenge to the State reeling under the impact economic slowdown due to the pandemic.

The Chief Minister said a request for release of 50 lakh doses has been made to the Centre. The State has already administered more than 55 lakh first doses and 8.37 lakh second doses till date and over two lakh doses are in stock. The number of people in the 45+ age group is 1.13 crore.

Kerala had managed to pull back the test positivity rate to as low as 3.5 per cent from double digits in March. At 3.9 per cent, the case fatality rate continues to be one of the lowest in the country, the Chief Minister said.

‘Faulty pricing’

The pricing policy with the manufacturers given the right to fix price is faulty, he charged. Serum Institute of India, manufacturer of Covishield, is charging State governments ₹400 per dose (against ₹150 for supply to the Centre’s vaccination programme). Kerala would need to spend ₹1,300 crore, which would further compromise its already stretched finances.

Earlier on Thursday, the State government had initiated discussions with vaccine manufacturers for procuring adequate stock.

Published on April 23, 2021

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