Bhubaneswar: High hopes on Odisha government’s aim to procure vaccines from across the world to expedite inoculation drive against the Covid-19 before outbreak of further infection waves, seems to be crashing down like a deck of cards.
The State government on Tuesday informed that its bid for buying vaccines from leading manufacturers is facing dire setback due to various reasons.
State Health Minister Naba Das in a letter to his counterpart in the Centre, Dr Harsh Vardhan expressed apprehensions that now Odisha like other States are facing non response of vaccine manufacturers despite floating a global tender for procurement.
“Global vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer and Moderna are concerned about indemnity related issues among others. Secondly. they are willing to deal with federal-level central procurement only, at this stage. Global vaccine manufacturers will be requiring the Central Government statutory clearances for supplying to the States,” he stated in his letter.
Das urged Health Minister Harsh Vardhan that it might be faster and economical if the procurement of global vaccines are made at the country-level rather than by individual Slates.
Among other proposals, he pointed out that the State would like to do priority vaccination for plus 2 students and their families and so states may be given the given flexibility to design and decide on distribution of vaccines taking local factors into consideration. ( for example in many hilly terrains. Internet connectivity is poor and we can't make online registration mandatory in those districts.)
So far, Odisha has vaccinated 61.06,415 people with at least one dose. Currently the State government is able to vaccinate at 60.000 -70,000 people per day even though it has the capacity to vaccinate at 3 Lakh people per day.
This is quite inadequate in view of the huge demand for vaccines across the State. Looking at the supply problem in direct purchase. Odisha floated a Global tender for procurement of vaccines.
However there has been limited response to the tenders observed during the pre-bid stage. Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech did not participate in the pre-bid meeting.
“In view of the urgency of the issue we look forward to early action in this regard and assure our continued cooperation to defeat Covid-19,” the Health Minister requested in the letter.
Meanwhile, the letter citing State's failure in procuring vaccines attracted reactions from political corridors. Targeting both the Centre and State government, PCC Working President, Pradeep Majhi said, "This is a direct result of missing coordination between the two. Both, Centre and Odisha government have failed in vaccinating its citizens.
BJP State General Secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan said, "Odisha government should work religiously to vaccinate people and should not put the ball in Centre's court everytime they fail."
"Centre has resolved to inoculate each and every citizen of India by December this year," Harichandan added.
While both Congress and BJP slammed the State government, it is yet to comment on their accusations.