Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his tenth address on COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic on Tuesday evening, and announced free vaccines for all Indian citizens aged 18 years and above at government hospitals from June 21. He also announced that 75 per cent of the total vaccine production from vaccine manufacturers will be procured by the centre and given to the states for free, while 25 per cent will be procured by private hospitals.
He further announced a cap on service charge on vaccines by private hospitals at Rs. 150.
His address comes less than a week after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to furnish complete data on its purchase history of all COVID vaccines including Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V, and explain its vaccine policy. The top court said that the affidavit must clarify: (a) the dates of all procurement orders placed by the Central government for all 3 vaccines; (b) the quantity of vaccines ordered as on each date; and (c) the projected date of supply.Also Read: Give Complete Data On COVID Vaccines: Supreme Court to Centre
Modi added that the centre will take over the inoculation procedure, and come up with new guidelines after discussions with states governments over the next few weeks. On vaccine availability, the prime minister assured that supply will increase in the coming days with seven companies already manufacturing vaccines, and three other vaccine trials in advanced stage.
Furthermore, the 25 per cent quota of vaccines that were being procured by states for those aged 18-24 since May 1, will now be procured directly by the Centre, he mentioned.
"This is the deadliest pandemic in the past 100 years. The modern world has not seen such a pandemic. Our country has fought this pandemic at many levels," Modi said.
Two Vaccines For Children Under Trial
Regarding concerns about vaccination of children - an age group that has been increasingly affected by the virus with the respective waves, and is yet to be inoculated - Modi announced that there are currently two vaccines under trial that are specifically meant for this age group.
Tenfold Increase In Oxygen Production
The prime minister spoke of the new health infrastructure that has been developed since the beginning of the pandemic, with COVID hospitals, ventilators, and oxygen. He mentioned the historical demand for oxygen that India saw during the second wave, and claimed that the country had increased its production capacity tenfold in a short amount of time.
Modi also extended the duration of the pubic distribution scheme under the Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana to Diwali. He added that 80 crore people are to be provided with free ration under this scheme.
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