Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appeals to fellow Chief Ministers to reach a consensus on centralised procurement of vaccines

Published : June 02, 2021 20:53 IST

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Photo: Biswaranjan Rout / The Hindu

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote a letter to all the Chief Ministers on June 2 urging them to arrive at a consensus on centralised procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by the Centre in view of the challenges faced by the States.

“No State is safe unless all the States adopt vaccination as the topmost priority and execute it on a war-footing. But this cannot be a battle among the States to compete against each other to procure vaccines,” said Patnaik in his letter.

On April 23, the Central government had announced that as part of phase three of the national vaccination strategy, all individuals over the age of 18 years were eligible to get themselves vaccinated from May 1. Moreover, it allowed the States and private hospitals to directly procure vaccine doses as part of a liberalised procurement programme. However, this phase of vaccine rollout has faced obstacles in many States due to shortages in vaccine supply.

Patnaik said that after the Centre announced phase three of the vaccination process, there has been a great demand for vaccines from citizens.

“Many States have floated global tenders for vaccine procurement. However, it is quite clear that the global vaccine manufacturers are looking forward to the Union Government for clearances and assurances. They are unwilling to get into supply contracts with the State governments. While the domestic vaccine manufacturers are having supply constraints and are not able to commit the required supplies,” he said in his letter.

Stating that vaccination was the only way to protect the people against future waves and create in them a hope of survival, Patnaik wrote, “Under the above circumstances, the best option available is for the Government of India to centrally procure the vaccines and distribute it among the States so that our citizens are vaccinated at the earliest.”

At the same time, he said the execution of the vaccination program has to be decentralised and States should be allowed the flexibility to determine their own mechanisms to ensure universal vaccination.

“For example, many hilly areas cannot access the Internet and therefore online registration has to be flexible; some vulnerable tribes can be given priority by the State,” he added.

Mentioning that he had spoken to some Chief Ministers about these and they also shared his view, Patnaik suggested that all State Governments should come to a consensus for an early resolution of this problem. “We should act fast before any third wave comes and creates further havoc.”

Describing the pandemic as the greatest challenge the country has faced since the independence struggle, he urged all Chief Ministers to set aside their differences and come together to save precious lives and hard-earned livelihoods.