Central government to give free vaccines to states: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today addressed the nation, speaking on the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination policy in the country. He said the Indian government is taking back control of the vaccination drive - implying that all the vaccines will now be procured by the central government and provided to states free of cost. Here are more details on this.
The PM said in his speech that 75% of the total vaccination will come under the Centre and would be free while the remaining would be paid and provided by private hospitals. From June 21, free vaccines will be provided to people aged above 18. He said seven companies are producing various vaccines and trials for three more are currently in the advanced stage.
PM Modi further announced that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana - under which free ration is provided to 80 crore people across India - has now been extended until Diwali, which this year falls in early November.
"We continue to battle the second wave of the coronavirus. Many people lost their loved ones to the pandemic," PM Modi said in his speech. He added, "Like other countries, India has suffered too. This the biggest pandemic in the past 100 years. The modern world has not seen such a pandemic. Our country has fought this pandemic at various levels."
"Whether they were ICU beds, ventilators, the health infrastructure was ramped up. During the second wave in April-May, there was an unbelievable demand for the medical oxygen. We ran Oxygen expresses, IAF and Navy were involved, the production was increased tenfold," PM Modi said. He also urged citizens to continue following all coronavirus-related protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
PM Modi's last address to the nation was on April 20, when coronavirus cases were spiralling all across India. He had said everyone must take precautions but lockdown should a last resort. "Our focus should be micro-containment zones. We will take care of economic health as well as the health of countrymen," he had said at the time.
After facing the world's worst coronavirus outbreak over the past couple of months, India's COVID-19 situation is finally improving. In the past 24 hours, the country logged 1,00,636 fresh cases - the lowest daily surge in over two months - taking the total caseload to 2.89 crore. Meanwhile, 2,427 more fatalities took the death toll past 3.49 lakh.
More than 23 crore vaccine doses have been administered across India so far. However, states continue to report a serious shortage of doses and just 3.3% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated as yet. The central government's vaccination policy has been severely criticized by some states and several courts across the country for various flaws, including differential pricing.