The Centre's new vaccine policy was creating a huge financial burden on the state governments, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayansaid on Friday and sought its support to flatten the rising COVID-19 curve.
During a video conference held by the Prime Minister with chief ministers of 10 states, Vijayan said purchasing vaccines for Rs 400 per dose will incur a cost of Rs 1,300 crore to the state government.
"If we are to purchase vaccines for Rs 400 per dose, we will incuran expense of Rs 1,300 crore. This will affect the state which is already reeling under financial crisis due to the pandemic," Vijayan said.
Speaking to reporters, the Chief Minister said handing over of power to the manufacturers to decide the vaccine price has created a problem as no quota was allotted for the states which may lead to competition to procure vaccines.
"This is not a desirable situation during a pandemic. We cannot accept the policy that those who have money, purchase the vaccine. Vaccination has been free and universal in India and the state government intends to move forward with that policy. We will keep our word given to the people," he said.
As the state continued to witness a spike in fresh COVID-19 infections, Vijayan said the State is following a three-pronged strategy to flatten the curve.
"One, increase the number of tests to find out the maximum number of cases. Two, provide maximum treatment through Covid hospitals, first-line treatment centres and home isolation. Three, bring effective regulation and specific restrictions to avoid a full lockdown and support the economy," he said.
He said the next two days-Saturday and Sunday-will see restrictions similar to lockdown.
"Only essential services and emergency travel will be allowed. There is a cap of 75 people indoor and 150 outdoor for marriage functions decided earlier and a maximum of 50 people for funeral services. Further restrictions will be discussed at an all-party meeting on Monday," the chief minister added.
Vijayan said since yesterday, thousands of Keralites have contributed to the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF) and over Rs 1.50 crore was received on Friday alone.
On Thursday, the CMDRF received Rs 51.9 lakh donation.
"CMDRF has been receiving donations for purchasing vaccines since yesterday. Today alone, more than Rs one crore has been raised. People of Kerala have become a model for the world by uniting for the safety of their brothers and the good of the country."
"This is an occasion when I feel proud as a Keralite. People are voluntarily donating from all over the world," Vijayan added.
The chief minister said a separate account will be opened for the vaccination drive in the CMDRF and the fund will be used for that purpose alone.
Kerala continued to witness a spike in fresh COVID-19 infections adding 28,447 cases on Friday, the highest single-day surge so far, pushing the caseload to 13,50,501, the state government said.