Chandigarh [India], April 23 (ANI): Terming the new COVID-19 vaccination policy for people above 18 age group as "unfair" to the states, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday sought Centre-State parity in vaccination for the said age group from May 1, while calling for urgent steps to ensure adequate oxygen supply.
DUring the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's virtual conference to discuss the COVID-19 situation with chief ministers of the worst hit states, Captain Amarinder said his government has adopted all measures to minimise demand for oxygen and demanded that the Central government must ensure that all commitments as per the allocation are complied with by liquid oxygen manufacturers in other states.
"Punjab's supplies come from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and there are reports of supplies being hijacked," he said.
On the vaccination front, the Chief Minister said at the rates declared by one manufacturer, the cost to the Punjab government will be over Rs 1,000 crores. He sought central government funding for vaccination, with permission to make the cost a fit charge on SDRF funds in the interim.
"Regular vaccine supply must be ensured to maintain the supply chain to the last vaccination booth. Due to supply shortage, the vaccination in last one week has been slightly low --around 75-80,000 daily. While Punjab received fresh supplies yesterday on (Thursday) the current stocks can last only three days as demand for vaccine is increasing," he stressed.
The Chief Minister also expressed concern over lack of clarity on the quantity of vaccine to be made available by Centre after May 1, and how the manufacturers will regulate supplies to different States and private purchasers. "The state government, on its part, has constituted an Expert Group under virologist Dr. Gagandeep Kang to advise on our vaccination strategy for 18-45 years, which states have been allowed to vaccinate at their cost," he disclosed.
He also pointed to the shortage and blackmarketing of medicines like anti-viral drug Remdesivir and Toci. Though the Central Government was making efforts to increase their supply, he said a clearer messaging was required to inform the public that "they are not magic wands", and also about available substitutes.
Citing the increase in the number of cases to around 5000 per day, with 10 per cent positivity in the last one week, from around 3000/day with 8 per cent positivity during the last video conference on April 8, the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to direct central institutions like AIIMS Bathinda, PGI Satellite Centres and Military Hospitals in Punjab to provide additional Covid beds. (ANI)