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On Tuesday, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the new vaccine policy of the Centre while calling it a “hollow, without substance and a regrettable show” of responsibility evasion.

On Monday, the central government declared that every adult citizen will be eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines from 1st May. The Centre liberalized the vaccination drive to allow states, private hospitals, and industrial establishments to purchase the vaccine doses directly from the vaccine manufacturers.

In the letter, Banerjee said, “I am informed that the central government has announced the much-delayed universal vaccine policy on 19th April 2021, which appears to be hollow, without substance, and a regrettable show of evasion of responsibility by the central government at a time of crisis.”

Reminding Banerjee’s earlier letter to the PM on 24th February this year, requesting to give free vaccination to people of the state and allow West Bengal to procure vaccines directly with state resources, she stated that from the PM she did not get any response. But now when the cases in the second wave of Covid are increasing at a higher speed, “the Centre has chosen to tactically indulge in empty rhetoric and shy away from its responsibility for making available vaccines to the people of the country,” said Banerjee.

The Bengal CM also stated that Monday’s announcement didn’t address key issues such as ensuring efficacy, quality, stable supply flow of a needed number of vaccine doses, and the price at which the vaccines are to be procured by the states.

Banerjee further stated that due to hardly prepared vaccine manufacturers, the supply would also become very erratic as they are yet to scale up their production capacities to the required levels to meet the countrywide demand.

She also pointed out that the pricing of vaccines appears to be based on market prices which may put the common people under a huge economic burden. Noting that currently required vaccines are not available in the market, she requested steps to ensure their availability at the earliest.

“In sum, I would earnestly request you to kindly ensure a fair, transparent, and credible vaccination policy addressing all the issues outlined above, which would enable the people of the country to get vaccines urgently at affordable prices as per current scale as applicable,” Banerjee added.

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