Mamata asks PM to outline vaccine procurement roadmap


WEST BENGAL Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during a virtual meeting of CMs with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, asked what the “procurement roadmap” of Covid vaccine for the state governments would be. She was informed that a procurement policy would be firmed up at a later stage.

She also requested the Centre to include transport workers in the category of frontline workers. The CM announced on Sunday that the state government was taking steps to arrange the vaccine for free for the entire population of the state.

After the meeting, the Bengal government issued a press release that said that in the meeting, Banerjee asserted that the state was “fully prepared” for the vaccination drive.

The release said, “The Honourable Chief Minister wondered whether adequate scientific confirmation was available in support of both the vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) that are now being offered by the Government of India in the country. She noted that the states have been left with no option to choose or procure between the two vaccines and the GOI has made a specific decision in favour of both the vaccines. She argued that adequate scientific opinions should be obtained before confirming the safety and efficacy of both the vaccines, while she also requested to clarify whether there might be any side effects, post vaccination. She submitted that optimal number of trials and fool-proof studies through such trials were needed before vaccinations were unequivocally advised in favour of both the vaccines.”

In response, NITI Aayog member Vinod K Paul said both the vaccines are “completely safe based on scientific evidence and there is no evidence of serious side-effects”.

The CM also sought a roadmap regarding the vaccination of the people at large and the role of the Centre in this regard. She wanted to know whether the state government has to purchase the vaccines for the rest of the population (beyond the already-prioritised categories) in the state, in which case, she argued, the Centre might provide necessary guidance toward such procurements. She was later assured that such a roadmap would be “evolved at a later stage”.

Banerjee assured the Centre that her government has constituted a state-level steering committee headed by the Chief Secretary, state-level task force, district-level task force and block-level task force. All these task forces are meeting regularly for ensuring all necessary manpower, infrastructure and logistical arrangements for Covid-19 vaccine administration in a time-bound manner. She assured that the state has prepared adequate storage capacity for the storage of Covid vaccine and all 941 cold chain points have been fully inspected and upgraded. She mentioned that the State has identified 44,000 vaccinators and more than 4,000 vaccine administration session sites across the state for the phase-1 of the Covid vaccination drive.She also mentioned that for the first phase of vaccination for the healthcare workers’ category. 5.8 lakh government and private healthcare workers have been enrolled. Their data has been uploaded in the portal. Under the frontine worker category, data of around 2.5 lakh police personnel and 1.25 lakh municipal workers was also being uploaded, added Banerjee.

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