Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the Centre and States should work together to ensure that Covid-19 vaccination, expected to be a mammoth task, is smooth, systematic and sustained so that the vaccine can reach all citizens.

The PM, who chaired a high-level meeting of Chief Ministers of States and Union Territories, urged them to send their suggestions for the roll-out of the vaccine at the earliest so that they can be considered while the strategy is prepared. He also asked the State governments to set up task forces at State and district levels to ensure speedy delivery of the vaccine, in addition to constituting state-level steering committees.

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Modi said the government is keeping a close watch on the development of vaccines and is in contact with Indian developers and manufacturers, along with regulators and governments of other countries, multilateral institutions and international companies.

Prior to this meeting, Modi also held a meeting with CMs of eight high focus States — Haryana, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal — and reviewed Covid management status in these States.

The Centre with the help of State governments has already drawn up a list of priority groups to be vaccinated first. These groups include frontline corona warriors, elderly people and people with co-morbidities. However, the government, as per its own admission, is expected to get only 500-550 million doses of the Covid vaccines, sufficient to vaccinate around only one-fifth of the population, till middle of next year.

The PM assured that only those vaccines that meet all necessary scientific criteria would be used.


During the meeting, Modi also informed the States about various measures that the Centre has taken to create better healthcare infrastructure. He specially mentioned the steps being taken up to establish 160 additional oxygen plants as well as supply of thousands of ventilators at an expense of ₹2,000 crore from the PMCARES fund.

He said efforts are on to make medical colleges and district hospitals in the country self-sufficient in terms of oxygen generation and supply.

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He noted that the trend of increase in spread of the pandemic in countries where its impact was earlier lessening, is being seen in some Indian States as well, which necessitates greater alacrity and caution by the administration.

Modi said it is important to increase RT-PCR tests, ensure better monitoring of patients especially those in home isolation, and equip health centres at village and community level.

He said that the target should be to bring down fatality rate below one per cent.

Chief Ministers’ views

Participating in the meeting, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said government has already formed a task force on Covid vaccination and its distribution in the State. He also said that the fight against corona could be fought in a more planned manner if there was a nationwide policy on vaccine distribution, movement of citizens between States as well as the determination of containment areas. Thackeray said his government is in constant touch with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which is making Covishield vaccine.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao said the State’s action plant to distribute and administer the vaccine is ready, but urged the Centre to take utmost care to ensure the efficacy and safety of the vaccine before giving the go-ahead.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister, on the other hand, told the PM that increasing air pollution is the key reason for the third wave of Covid cases in the capital and sought the latter’s intervention to stop stubble burning from Punjab and Haryana.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani appraised the PM about measures being taken by the State to contain the infection said out of a total 55,000 dedicated isolation beds for Covid-19 patients across the state, 82 per cent or about 45,000 beds are still vacant. This is giving a comfort level to the authorities for patient management amid rising Covid-19 cases post Diwali festival.

(With inputs from Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Hyderabad Bureaus)

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