Mamata Banerjee Calls Centre’s Universal Vaccine Policy a ‘Hollow Promise’

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In a scathing attack, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee termed the Centre’s “universal vaccine policy” decision from May 1 onwards as “hollow” promise, “without substance” and a “regrettable show of evasion of responsibility” at the time of crisis.

In a hard hitting letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Mamata accused the Centre for shying away from its responsibility for making available vaccines to the people of the country.

Her letter reads, “I am informed that the Central government has announced the much delayed ‘universal’ vaccine policy on April 19, 2021, which appears to be hollow, without substance and a regrettable show of evasion of responsibility by the Central government at the time of crisis. Now when the number of cases in the second wave of Covid is spiralling like anything, 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.”

While mentioning her previous letter to PM Modi, she said, “You may kindly recollect my letter dated February 24, 2021 wherein I had requested your intervention to allow our State to purchase vaccines directly with State resources and give free vaccination to the people of the State. No response was received from your end.”

Mamata claimed that the Centre’s announcement (universal vaccine policy) lacks safety and quality assurance norms while handling the Covid-19 crisis.

She also highlighted that the universal vaccination policy does not address major issues like ensuring the quality, efficacy, stable flow of supply of required number of vaccines by the manufacturers and also the price at which vaccines are to be purchased by the States.

“It is apprehended that the announced policy might lead to unscrupulous mechanisms in the market, including pricing of vaccines as it appears to be based on market prices which may put the common people under huge financial burden. More importantly, the supply would also become very erratic because the vaccine manufacturers are hardly prepared to scale up their production capacities to the desired levels to meet the nationwide demand. I would like to mention once again that required vaccines are not presently available in the market and request that steps may immediately be taken to ensure availability of vaccines at the earliest,” Mamata’s letter to PM Modi reads.

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

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